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Wednesday, December 23, 2020

God’s Abiding Fidelity: The Family of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus 2020

                        God’s Abiding Fidelity

The Family of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus 2020

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December 27, 2020

2 Samuel 7:1-16; Psalm 89; Romans 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38



In a year in which our extended families may not have been able to come together for major events and holidays, we’ve had to collectively examine the family around us and we’ve had to rely upon one another, and we have been there for one another. The readings highlight fidelity to God, which implies fidelity to our family of faith. Abram trusts God even though he is old and childless and he follows the command to God to look up at the sky to count the stars and to trust in God’s blessings. Through his fidelity, Abram becomes Abraham and soon discovers that his wife Sarah has become pregnant. He is to become the father of many descendants because of his trust. Likewise, we have been gifted with the Christmas star this year, and thus we have an invitation to lift up our faces and to be filled with hope in God’s promises to us. 


Joseph and Mary likewise trust in the law of Moses when they bring the boy to the Temple for his ritual Presentation. They meet the righteous Simeon, who prayed for many people during his long life, and the widowed Ana, the prophet, who found solace in being close to the Lord in the Temple. These people of prayer were instrumental for the development of the family of Jesus, especially when Joseph and Mary took him to Galilee to grow in wisdom and strength. Ana and Simeon’s prayers helped the faith move from its former phase to a new mode of being. As we transition from this year of unbalance, we need people of prayer to help guide us to something new and imaginative.


As we reflect upon this year and pivot a new one, take a survey of the ways your prayer has evolved. I recall waking up each morning with a fresh attitude and a generous spirit and I would offer the beginnings of my day to God. Then I would catch the news cycle and feel weighed down a bit; then the texts, emails, and phone calls started coming in because of the worry and concern of many people. By the end of the day, my shoulders were heavy, eyelids were droopy, and the gravity of concerns were substantial, and I would sit before God just to breathe and to offer up the intentions entrusted to me. Sometimes I would feel like a container that would receive the intentions and then store them to offer them to the Lord at mass and in my personal prayer, and God always lifted the burdens from my shoulders and revived my spirits, so that I could go to bed with a lighter heart, one that placed trust in God. The intentions were never mine to carry, but simply to hold until I could bring them to the Lord. They are God’s; they rightly belong in God’s heart, the one who can do all things with great possibility and promise. 


As we celebrate the family of Joseph and Mary, our families of origin, and our families of faith, let’s receive the prayers that people entrust to us. Our prayer for each other is essential, as we have discovered this year. Sometimes, it is all we can have and all we can offer. Let’s offer them to the Lord at Eucharist; let’s lift them up for the Lord to hear. While these stories today appear to be about the fidelity of Abram, Simeon, Anna, and Joseph and Mary, they are about God’s fidelity to us, so that when we look up at the sky and see those stars, or the clouds, or the Christmas Star, we will know the God is blessing us today and promises to do so for our future. So, let’s celebrate with joy that we have one another and that our prayers and compassion will make life easier for another person, and let’s remember that God’s heart is still filled with gladness that the Christ has been born for us once again. 


Scripture for Daily Mass


First Reading:

Monday: (Acts 6) Stephen worked great wonders among the people and adversaries debated with him fiercely. They threw hit out of the city, stoned him, and laid him at Saul’s feet.  


Tuesday: (1 John) What we heard, and saw with our eyes, what we looked upon, and touched with our hands, concerns the Word of life.


Wednesday: (1 John) God is light and in him there is no darkness. We have fellowship with him. Walk in the light as he is in the light.  


Thursday: (1 John) We are friends with God if we keep his commandments. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light and there is nothing in him to cause a fall.   


Friday (Sirach 3) God sets a father in honor over his children; a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons. Take care of your father when he is old.   


Saturday (1 John 2) It is the last hour and the anti-Christ is coming. You have the anointing of the Holy One, and you have all knowledge.



Monday: (Matthew 10) Jesus said, “Beware of men who will hand you over to their courts and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be led before governors and kings.  


Tuesday: (John 20) Magdalene ran to Simon Peter and the Beloved Disciples to tell the news that Jesus has been removed from the tomb. In fear, they ran to see the tomb.


Wednesday (Matthew 2) When the magi departed, an angel told Joseph to take his wife and child to Egypt because Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.  


Thursday (Luke 2) When the days were completed for the purification, Mary and Joseph brought the child to the Temple, where they met Simeon, a righteous and devoted man.


Friday (Matthew 2) When Herod died, an angel told Joseph to return to Israel. “Out of Egypt have I called my son.”


Saturday (John 1) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things came to be through him. A light shines in the darkness.  


Saints of the Week


December 27: John, Apostle and Evangelist (d. 100), was the brother of James and one of the three disciples to be in the inner circle. He left fishing to follow Jesus and was with him at the major events: the transfiguration, raising of Jairus' daughter, and the agony in the garden. He is also thought to be the author of the fourth gospel, three letters, and the Book of Revelation. 


December 28: The Holy Innocents (d. 2), were the boys of Bethlehem who were under two years old to be killed by King Herod in an attempt to eliminate the rise of the newborn king as foretold by the astronomers from the east. This event is similar to the rescue of Moses from the Nile by the slaughter of the infant boys by the pharaoh. 


December 29: Thomas Becket, bishop and martyr (1118-1170), was the lord chancellor and archbishop of Canterbury in England during the time of King Henry II. When he disagreed with the King over the autonomy of the church and state, he was exiled to France. When he returned, he clashed again with the king who had him murdered in Canterbury Cathedral.  


December 30: The Family of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus, was a feast instituted in 1921. It was originally the 3rd Sunday after Christmas. The Holy Family is often seen in Renaissance paintings - and many of those are of the flight into Egypt. 


December 31: Sylvester I, pope (d. 335), served the church shortly after Constantine issued his Edict of Milan in 313 that publicly recognized Christianity as the official religion of the empire and provided it freedom of worship. Large public churches were built by the emperor and other benefactors. Sylvester was alive during the Council of Nicaea but did not attend because of old age.


January 2: Basil the Great and Gregory Nanzianzen, bishops and doctors (fourth century), are two of the four great doctors of the Eastern Church. They are known for their preaching especially against the Arian heretics. Basil began as a hermit before he was named archbishop of Caesarea. He influenced Gregory who eventually became archbishop of Constantinople. Their teachings influenced both the Roman and Eastern Churches.


This Week in Jesuit History


  • Dec 27, 1618. Henry Morse entered the English College at Rome. 
  • Dec 28, 1802. Pope Pius VII allowed Father General Gruber to affiliate the English Jesuits to the Society of Jesus in Russia. 
  • Dec 29, 1886. Publication of the beatification decree of the English martyrs. 
  • Dec 30, 1564. Letter from Pope Pius IV to Daniel, Archbishop of Mayence, deploring the malicious and scurrilous pamphlets published against the Society throughout Germany and desiring him to use his influence against the evil. 
  • Dec 31, 1640. John Francis Regis died. He was a missionary to the towns and villages of the remote mountains of southern France. 
  • Jan. 1, 1598: Fr. Alphonsus Barréna, surnamed the Apostle of Peru, died. He was the first to carry the faith to the Guaranis and Chiquitos in Paraguay. 
  • Jan. 2, 1619: At Rome, John Berchmans and Bartholomew Penneman, his companion scholastic from Belgium, entered the Roman College. 


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