December 30, 2016 – Friday, 5th Day in the Octave of Christmas


Today’s Feast: The Holy Family: Jesus, Mary and Joseph

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14 – Or Colossians 3:12-21 –  Psalm 128  – Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23

The opening verse of today’s Responsorial Psalm begins: “Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his way! For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork; blessed shall you be, and favored (Psalm 128:1-2)

Today’s celebration of the Feast of the Holy Family – and, indeed, the Celebration of Christmas – can be painful days for many people who only have an experience of the brokenness of family life. I have friends who recently shared with me the pain that they have because of this kind of brokenness, which keeps them away from sharing with their own grown children and the young grandchildren.

Then, even for those of us who live more or less “normal” family lives, the Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy can have “flag words” that appear to rub some the wrong way. Even “the Church” is aware of this and offers a “cleaned up” version of the reading from Colossians’. Yet we cannot just turn our backs on the reality of our own brokenness. Jesus, himself, was born into this kind of brokenness as he brought light into a world of darkness which made him into a kind of refugee fleeing from corrupt political tensions.

After the Holy Family’s return from Egypt there’s a huge blank section of the Holy Scriptures with only one reference about finding the young Jesus in the Temple and the fact that He returned, with them, to Nazareth where “he grew in wisdom and truth.” (Luke 2:51) 

I don’t think that this gap was just accidental since it forces us to put our attention on the “public ministry” of this Jesus who will utter his well-known “Sermon on the Mount” with His outline of what our lives should be: “Blessed are they who are …” poor in spirit; who mourn; who are meek; hungry; merciful; pure in heart; peacemakers; and persecuted. (Matthew 5:1-10)

This is the “outline” that Jesus will give for those who follow Him. That’s why we have to leave Bethlehem and “go on the road.” We can’t just stay in the security of our homes holding on to the Baby Jesus. We must hear His call to “come follow me and I will make you … into something great that you never expected.

But it won’t happen unless we move out of our comfort zones and get “on the way” … to living in the Kingdom Zone.

You want peace in the world? Become a peacemaker. You want mercy and justice to be available to all? Begin by showing mercy and by being just in all that you do. But I’ll be easy on you. Just work on those two goals and you’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll see progress and the rest of the Beatitudes will begin to fall into place in your life. You have about two months to work on this before we begin Lent on March 1, 2017! Good Luck! And Amen!

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