Holy Family – 2017

FAMB17.   Genesis 15:1-6; 21:1-3.  “Abram put his faith in the Lord, who credited to him as an act of righteousness.”  Abraham needed to have male descendant from his wife Sarah to establish a line of descendants, as the basis of God’s Chosen People.  He trusted that God would do what he had promised, despite the fact that Sarah was beyond her child-bearing years.  That trust was credited to him as an act of righteousness because he believed that no matter what God would never fail him. And so Isaac was born.

Luke 2:22-40.   “They took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.”  The act of presenting or consecrating a child to God is recognize and honor the fact that all life is from God and belongs to its creator and not to the one created.  God has given us conception as human beings to be loved by him forever and, being loved by him, we have been given the calling to be love as God is love, as his sons and daughters in the image of God our Father.  Simeon had the Holy Spirit who revealed to him that he would see the Messiah before he died.  Even before John the Baptist, Simeon introduced to the world the Messiah, “a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.”  Joseph and Mary, “the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him by Simeon.”  Simeon, foretelling Mary’s witnessing the passion and death of Jesus, says to Mary, “you yourself a sword will pierce.”  Simeon also foretells, “This child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel,” which I interpret to mean that many will go to heaven and many others to hell as they manifest from their hearts their acceptance or rejection of Jesus.  Anna, the prophetess, also foretold that Jesus would lead his followers to redemption.  “The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him.” Since the angel Gabriel came to Mary, one might imagine that the angel made timely visits to Jesus’ parent to keep them informed about their extraordinary child but apparently not.  After the incident of the boy Jesus teaching in the Temple, John 2:50-51 says, “But they did not understand what he said to them.  He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart.” Mary is a model for us of one who is attentive to God who reveals himself a little here and there.  As Mary stayed close to God, ready to listen to what God wishes to reveal, we should do the same.  Our gospel reading (John 112:40) ends, “The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.  John 12:52 ends “And Jesus advanced {in} wisdom and age and favor before God and man.”  Jesus, in his humanity, was a real child who grew up under the care of his parents.  Jesus was not God masquerading as a pretend human being.  It is very difficult but necessary to keep in balance that Jesus is both human and divine. Joseph is referred to as his father because, even as a adopting father, he is a real parent to Jesus.  This feast of the Holy Family is an invitation to us to think of ourselves as members of God’s family here on earth, as members of the church, and as members-in-formation of God’s family in heaven.

Hebrew 11:8, 11-12, 17-19.  “By faith Abraham obeyed,” “not knowing” to what land God was calling him.  By faith he believed that God would make of Sarah and him a great nation, even though they were well beyond the age to have a child.  By faith he believed that, even if he offered up Isaac as a sacrifice, God would still raise up Israel as a great nation.  Abraham calls upon us to be a people of faith in the God who is always faithful.  In Mark 9:22b-24, the father of a boy whom a demon had possessed says: “’But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us’.  Jesus said to him, ‘If you can!’  ‘Everything is possible to one who has faith.’  Then the boy’s father cried out, ‘I do believe, help my unbelief!’”  We live in a world that that requires physical proof of everything but as people of faith, we realize we put our faith a God who made the universe.  We have a reality beyond the reality that only our eyes can see.