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Contents: Volume 2 - HOLY FAMILY (B)
- December 27, 2020


Holy

  Family

  (B)

   2020

 

1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP

4. --

5. --(Your reflection can be here!)

 

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Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph 2020

Although we all belong to the family of God, few families of our present times can truly say they mirror the Holy Family, at least not with consistency. For a starter, some are estranged, some are in far off places, and some are in close quarters together for too long in this horrible pandemic. When we do remember that we should mirror the Holy Family, we can... for short periods of time, at least through a zoom. As the popular commercialized Christmas gift reveals, between then naughty and the nice is a check mark for "I tried".

In the shortest version of today's Gospel, we read and are told that after the presentation in the temple, Mary and Joseph returned to Nazareth with Jesus and "The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him." Nothing is said about the trials that this young family endured. Nothing is said about the ups and downs of daily living that fostered this holiness. Remember, Jesus was 100% truly God and 100% truly human, even as a teenager!

Do we, all of us who struggle to mirror this Holy Family in our homes, communities, workplaces and parishes, with or with out youngsters in our midst, just give up? We can not! We must remember that "nothing is impossible for God". In addition, through the abundant blessings and graces we all receive, we must embrace the words in our second reading from Colossians, "Whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. "

The Holy Family centered their lives on doing the will of God and gave thanks to God, trusting in grace in all circumstances. That is what we must do, remembering the Gift of Jesus this holy season. That is the way to mirror the Holy Family and become more of who we are, members of the Holy Family of God.

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph December 28 2020

Sirach 3:2-6 &12-14; Responsorial Psalm128; Colossians 3:12-21: Gospel Acclamation Colossians 3:15-16; Luke 2:22-40

[ alternate reading offered; Abraham covenant theme – Genesis 15:1-6 & 21:1-3; Responsorial Psalm 125; Colossians 3:12-17(a shorter reading of the first option of Colossians 3:12-21) or Hebrews 11:8, 11-12, 17-19; Gospel Acclamation Hebrews 1:1-2; Luke 2:22, 39-40 (just a shortened gospel from the first listing of the gospel above)]

There are some celebrations of feast days that have several themes available to them. Those several themes do not have a good fit for other Sundays or feast days, so those selections are offered as an alternate selection at the discretion of the presider. This feast day of the Holy Family is one of those feasts. The second set of readings focuses on Abram chosen by God to become Abraham – that is the father of a great people. As is the case with many Hebrew words, the word "great" can mean at least two things. It can easily mean a people that are view as great, noteworthy, accomplished, respected. Or it can also mean a large number, a huge multitude. In the narrative, God tells Abram to go outside his tent and count the stars in the heavens. Clearly this is an impossibility because there are so many. This story of Abram’ calling and assent to God’s call tells the story of the beginning of the chosen people, the people who would be the first called to begin the story, the narrative of God’s salvation. As usual in the Hebrew Scriptures, God choses an impossible person in an impossible situation to reveal his plan and work. Abram and wife Sarah were without child. They lost all hope of children because of their age. How was it possible that Abram would become Abraham and be the patriarch of a huge multitude? Abram was successful in a worldly sense with great wealth, possession, and prestige in his native land. God promised to make of him and Sarah a great people as numerous as all the stars of heaven. For Sarah who was well beyond child-bearing age, would become a mother for the first time. The Hebrew people’s saga would begin. The reading from Genesis tells us that amazing story. The reading from the letter to the Hebrews explains it in the light of the birth, life, ministry, and death/resurrection of the Christ child.

Abram left his home country to go where God would show him. He became Abraham. There are three major faith traditions that spring from Abraham and Sarah. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Isn’t it just the way things are: it seems that siblings – persons and in this case nations – of the same family just cannot seem to get along and appreciate each other!? Is this not a significant thought on this feast day about our own families? Jealousies, envies, old unforgotten and unforgiven slights get in the way of the harmony that is more God like. How quickly we step up to a judgement seat when thinking, working with, communicating with our families! How easily we move to judgement based on our own successes and overlook the person of our brothers and sisters! The divisiveness and name calling in much of public life tears at the very fabric of the human family. Violence, hatred, theft, racism, and murder is the result. How terrifically awful and unworthy of children of God! What great insights and growth in the Kingdom of Heaven there would be if all listened and believed in one another: if all would strive to recognize the image and likeness of God resident in the other. How wonder it would come to be if we imitated the Father in his unconditional love for his creation and would cooperate in the Father’s expansive love and compassion!

But contention there is, even in this family of Abraham and Sarah. Isaac’ son’s rivalry that competition between Jacob and Esau begins the conflicts. There was jealousy among the brothers, the sons of Jacob. They sold their brother Joseph into slavery in Egypt to get rid of him. From it all, God makes the journey to salvation possible, interfering, cajoling, allowing misfortune, and always raising up from the people the most unlikely of leaders.

It is God’s covenant with the Hebrews that he would be their God and that he would look upon them as his people. That is the story that comes to us from the letter to the Hebrews.

In our current situation, family has become the mooring refuge in the midst of crushing economic and social pressures arising from a global pandemic and from political competition among nations and here in our nation. Family has become the refuge against those storms. And yet, the economic, social, and political divisions that have been thrust upon us has torn asunder the fabric of human life. Even as we grieve over the death of family and friends, dying alone without comfort of family and church and nation, there remains rivalries and contentions. In a time when we must respect the space and health of others, there are many who insist on personal freedoms which result in growing chaos of an uncontrolled disease.

We are first of all family in our homes. Currently even the very notion of "home" is threatened. Tens of thousands of persons are threatened with the likelihood of homelessness. Millions of children are deprived of the social and educational development of schooling. Food and medicine become too expensive even though gouging by speculators does not seem to have influenced prices.

While all this chaos continues, we see a tremendous growth in goodness. Thousands have donated from their resources. Millions quietly work in volunteer programs without notice, compensation, or thanks. The worst of times seems to bring out in some the best of character.

It is family that keeps us from dissolving into nothingness. It is family that forms the faith and hope for a better tomorrow. It is family that struggles, that pulls together to overcome. It is in family that God finds a way to bring us through this time.

In the story of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph this Sunday, we see examples of faith that transcends the troubles of the present time. The story indicates, in the sacrifice chosen, the poverty of this family. They were in a working class without lots of resources. In a sense many of our families have a history that includes such circumstances. The stories of immigrants and survivors of the great depression, of the Influenza Pandemic of 1918-1919, of two world wars are part of our history and provide a sense of achievement and survival against great odds. It is the family that inspires, that elicits great sacrifices in ourselves, in our ancestors, and in our children. In that sense of sacrifice, we become like Jesus, saviors to others.

In the past several weeks, we have written about Mary being pregnant with Jesus. In a sense each of us is also pregnant with the Lord as we go about our daily activities. It is Jesus who promised he would always be with us: that he would not leave us as orphans: that he would send an advocate to support and assist us.

On this feast day of the Family, we have the opportunity to understand how we can offer support and loving kindness to one another. We should seek to resolve our antipathies, our jealousies, our envies, the slights we have given or received. If we are to celebrate on this the third day of Christmas the wonder and necessity of family, we will need to listen to each other, respect each other, forgive each other, and discover in the other the wonder they were born into and into which they have become.

We are more like "All in the Family" than we are "Father Knows Best." It takes work, effort, and a deep care and love for each other. This might seem tough. But then consider this: through God’s work, we have become members of the family of God. If God can care that much about each of us, we should find it within ourselves to work at creating family. That is how we bring the Christ into the real world. We are the hands and feet of the Lord. May it be so.

Carol & Dennis Keller dkeller002@nc.rr.com

 

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CELEBRATING THE HOLY FAMILY OF NAZARETH

In the week before Christmas a little boy who lives near a church had a part in his school’s Nativity play. It wasn't a big part - in fact it was just one line: ‘Let the crooked be made straight.’ But it seems that he put more work into his one line then any actor before or since. At the performance itself he stood up, and with a big smile on his face delivered his line perfectly. At the end, at the back of the church-hall, his pastor asked him how he had found it. He answered proudly: ‘I did my part good.’

That, I think, is what Simeon and Anna are saying to us in today's gospel. They have only small parts to play in the story of salvation. But they played them well, as well as they possibly could. So, Simeon can say: ‘Now Master, you can let your servant go in peace … because my eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared for all the nations to see …’

Simeon, then, is thanking God for this special favour: At the very end of his life, God is letting him meet Jesus - the Messiah, the Saviour, and the King of the world. Anna too, another elderly person, is sharing this privilege of meeting the Saviour of the world in the person of the Christ-child. For this special grace she too begins to praise God. Moreover, she speaks to anyone who shows any interest, of the greatness, goodness and destiny of this baby.

For both Simeon and Anna, their experience of meeting the Christ-child is one of relief and peace, light and life, hope and joy. In short, it’s an experience of being saved through the arrival of Jesus on the scene.

For us who have come together today to celebrate the feast of the Holy Family of Nazareth, the feast is a reminder of all that Jesus Christ has meant to us, and all that he continues to mean to us. We came into his presence and company on the day we were led into the House of God to be baptised. We have met him many times since. For example, in the guidance and protection, the goodness and kindness, the love and support, of our parents! In the friendship and support of many other family members and of many other significant people in our lives! We have also met him in other sacraments we have celebrated, and especially in those of Reconciliation, Eucharist, and Marriage.

It is precisely because of the length3, breadth and depth of our relationship with Christ, that we can praise God in our Eucharist today with words taken from the Christmas Preface: 'we recognise in him God made visible’ or as a child recently put it so well, ‘in Jesus we meet God with skin on’.

Our family is yet another place where we may experience the kind of faithful love that kept the family of Jesus together as a community of love ‘in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health’ as the Marriage Vows put it.

Because the Holy Family knew sorrow, trouble and pain, it can encourage your family and mine. They did not live a sheltered and trouble-free life, as we see from every glimpse we get of them in the gospel stories. Our families too experience tension, misunderstandings, problems and challenges, and even sometimes perhaps an exchange of cross words. Like your family and mine, the Holy Family had to struggle and make sacrifices. But struggles and sacrifices form bonds between family members who often draw closer to one another when the going gets tough.

In our twenty-first century, the meaning of ‘family’ has changed. We have become aware, and have come to respect, those who belong to separated, divorced, blended, or single-parent families. Whatever form our family takes, some of us are finding life together in our family more challenging than ever. All sorts of craziness, compulsions, and conflicts, are putting relationships under strain, and are sometimes threatening to break up the family. So, there is a greater need than ever among family members, for those qualities that are stressed in our Second Reading today – love, patience, compassion, and forgiveness. We also need to keep asking God in prayer to keep our families intact. We might pray, e.g., in the words of our Prayer after Holy Communion today: 'Eternal Father, we want to live as Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, in peace with you and one another. May this communion (with you and one another) strengthen us to face the troubles of life. AMEN.’

"Brian Gleeson CP" <bgleesoncp@gmail.com>

 

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Volume 2 is for you. Your thoughts, reflections, and insights on the next Sundays readings can influence the preaching you hear. Send them to preacherexchange@att.net. Deadline is Wednesday Noon. Include your Name, and Email Address.

-- Fr. John Boll


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Volume II Archive

We keep up to six articles in this archive.  The latest is always listed first.

3rd SUNDAY 2nd SUNDAY Baptism of the Lord Mary (Solemnity) HOLY FAMILY CHRISTMAS


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