The Holy Family

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Col 3:12-17; Ps 128:1-2, 3, 4-5; Mt 2:13-15, 19-23
Let the peace of Christ control your hearts!

Our true blessedness is the fear of the LORD. Not that we are afraid of God, but we stand in awe and wonder at His revelation as the psalm proclaims—“Be still and know that I am God.” We fear the LORD because He is God and there is no other. We fear the LORD because He reveals the way we are to walk, to live a blessed life. Only then will we eat the fruit of our handiwork; blessed shall we be and favored. This life of holiness is compared to a happy and holy family life in our responsorial psalm. We find ourselves living with a fruitful spouse and our children are like olive plants around our table. This way of life unfolds into the blessing of the entire world, and we shall see the prosperity of the New Jerusalem all the days of our life. As this Christmas Octave plays itself out we are given a glimpse of the Holy Family. Such domestic tranquility is rare and the stuff of dreams for many in our world today, yet the good news of the Incarnation summons us beyond our fears of living in some fantasy world to living in the joy of the gospel preached by Saint Paul to the early church. It’s not too late for us to hear as in a dream and respond in loving obedience so that we might live and move and have our being in the True Lord and Master of all family life.
With great prayer we put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another as the Lord has forgiven us. Saint Paul preaches that this life of love is the bond of perfection that lets the peace of Christ control our hearts. This is what we were called to in our Baptism into the one Body of Christ. This is the public witness and testimony for which each of us is responsible. Without such a life-giving example we will not be able to have any influence on our brothers and sisters among whom we live much less change the world. This is why we have been called in faith to hope for the coming of the Kingdom and to love with the very power of the Holy Spirit. It is this kind of radical witness to the life and love of Christ in us that will challenge and comfort those with whom we share on a daily basis. Even if we never have the responsibility of liturgical preaching, we still have the responsibility to do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus giving thanks to God the Father through him. The necessity of Sunday Liturgy is especially clear and even the need for daily Eucharist is abundantly clear from this teaching of Saint Paul. Being thankful for the power and glory of the Kingdom of God here and now gives us the strength necessary for our transformation and for the transfiguration of our world in the glory and power of Christ Our Lord and God.

Again the angel of the Lord appears to Saint Joseph in a dream to command him, “flee to Egypt and stay there until I tell you.” In his first dream encounter with the messenger of the Lord Saint Joseph is commanded to take the Virgin with Child into his home as his wife. Saint Joseph is obedient, even when he doesn’t understand all that’s being asked of him. Not understanding is no excuse for disobedience. The Magi were likewise obedient to the angel who revealed King Herod’s true intension. The angels protected the Magi and the Holy Family from the furious and fearful Herod. His command to massacre all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under satisfied his lust for power. However, the Christ Child survived his fury. King Herod had no power over the Holy Family. He had no power to destroy the true King of Israel and all the nations. This so called king of Israel tried to kill the only one who could offer him life, eternal life. This confused and self-deceptive tyrant may not have succeeded in destroying the King of Kings, but such tyrants still survive and sometimes succeed. The tyrants of our own day are still suspicious of the Lord Jesus and his Holy Family, the Church. We who seek the face of the Lord among us are daily threatened because of the fear of the tyrants in our own time. To be a Christian today is a death sentence in some countries. In other countries it is a major embarrassment and inconvenience. Indeed, we are the targets of those who seek to update our religion so that we fit more comfortably into the values of our contemporary culture. However, we are only comfortable among the Holy Family, among those who are obedient and responsive to the Word of God. Like Holy Mary we surrender to the will of God: “Let it be done to me according to your word.” Like Saint Joseph we respond without hesitation to the angel’s command: “ Take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt.” Like the Lord Jesus we long to avoid suffering but pray, “Your will be done, not mine.”

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