Last words. We have always place a special emphasis on last words. There are websites dedicated to recording the last words of famous people. Some are profound, some hilarious, and some ironic. Movies highlight the last words of the dying. I guess it is that we believe that for the person, this is their last shot at figuring things out, summing things up. We assume that at death’s doorway there is no need nor desire for pretense or fabrication, but only moments of deep, abiding truth and wisdom – and we hang on the edge of our seats. Continue reading
Sunday is the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus in Year B. In years past there were no options for the readings. The gospel was always from Matthew 2, the death of the Innocents and the escape to Egypt. Now each lectionary cycle has its own gospel. This year the gospel is one of my favorite passages: Luke 2, the Nunc Dimitis, or the encounter with Simeon in the Temple. The moniker of the passage comes from the opening words in the Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible: “Nunc dimittis servum tuum Domine, secundum verbum tuum in pace” – 29 “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation,31 which you prepared in sight of all the peoples,32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.” (Luke 2:29-32)
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. We’re not celebrating “perfect family Sunday.” Offered as a point of humor, let us remember Jesus was without sin and Mary, by God’s grace was kept free from sin – not such claim was made for Joseph. He wasn’t perfect, but he was holy. And so celebrate and consider holiness this Sunday as we are all called to remember that it was into a family that God sent his Son. A family that has its ups and downs, joys and sorrows, agreements and disputes, and all the things that are tossed into the cauldron called family life. A family like yours in many ways. A family that was holy, not perfect. My point being, that holiness lives and grows apart from perfection and perhaps even thrives best among the flawed and messy. And in family life, that means something far different than a Norman Rockwell painting. Continue reading
Next Sunday is the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus in Year A. You can read a complete commentary on the Sunday Gospel here. (By the way, if you would like to read a commentary on some of the Christmas readings you can find them here: Vigil or Midnight)
The Flight into Egypt 13 When they had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.” 14 Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. 15 He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled, “Out of Egypt I called my son.” Continue reading
When I began thinking about what I might preach on this, Holy Family Sunday, I began to think about the way the family appears on television – now and way back in the early days of television, the 1950s and 1960s. If you ask people who are 60 years old or older, what might be one of their favorite family shows, the answers might include “Father Knows Best.” Weekly we could tune in to see mom Margaret as the voice of reason or dad Jim as the thoughtful father offering sage advice whenever the kids Betty and Bud had a problem. They were held up for us as the perfect family. Of course, the family on “Leave it to Beaver” was pretty amazing – they also had mom, dad and two children – Wally and Theodore (whose nickname was “Beaver”). It was one of the first primetime sitcom series written from a child’s point of view. It was a glimpse of middle-class American boyhood. In a typical episode, Beaver gets into some sort of boyish scrape, then faces his parents for reprimand and correction. But in this series, neither parent was omniscient; the series often showed the parents debating their approach to child rearing, and some episodes were built around parental gaffes. Still, it was family. Continue reading
In today gospel account, it is now forty days after Jesus’ birth. Mary and Joseph are performing their duty as pious Jewish parents by coming to the Temple to fulfill the requirements of Exodus 13. It is a ritual that reminds the parents that this child is now a member of the family that God redeemed from the slavery in Egypt. And so, they come to offer a simple sacrifice as they dedicate their first-born child to the Lord and to the larger, holy covenant family of God. Continue reading
We are doing something special this year – single bulletin for the holidays! One issue to cover the fourth Sunday of Advent, Christmas, and the Feast of the Holy Family—and crossing into the New Year! I thought it was a good idea and a time saver for the staff who produce the bulletin—seemed like a great thing. And then I figured out I might have to write a column that spoke to the whole period. Hmmmm? Continue reading
Is your family holy? What makes a family holy?
Most often when we think of families, we think of what makes them healthy – and that too is a good question, a good goal, and something worth time and energy to ensure. A family should want to be a place where its members feel welcomed, warm, embraced, safe, supported, loved and so much more. But do all those things – as good as they are – make a family holy?
Is your family religious? Of course one answer is – “why sure…we here at church.” And if you are here to give praise and worship to God, then St. Thomas Aquinas would hold that your family is religious in that you possess the virtue to give God that which is fitting worship and praise. Continue reading
One of the things I do to prepare for the homilies is to continually read – books, magazines, on-lines articles and commentaries, and a host of other sources. I spent part of Saturday morning looking through the internet to see what people were saying or had said about the Holy Family. There is no shortage of sources. There were very good articles with inspiring insights, but there were too many articles that, it seems to me, were simply not too helpful.
There were sources that bemoaned the rate of divorce and the state of families in the United States, but said little else. Articles that scolded. Articles that had true and factual things to say. But so many articles failed to hold up one of the readings from Scripture that might speak to families having a rough go of it – to hold out encouragement, hope, and a touch of compassion. Continue reading
The Flight into Egypt. 13 When they had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.” 14 Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. 15 He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
Overall, the passage serves to establish the key themes mentioned previously as it points to the larger events playing out even as God’s plan unfolds out of site in a faraway land. Having already alerted readers to the nefarious plans of Herod, we are not surprised when again (v.13) the angel appears to Joseph in a dream telling him to take the child Jesus to safety. The very similar wording to that in Mt 1:20 (the dream to Joseph to take Mary into his home) indicates that all continues in God’s careful direction of events by supernatural revelations; the parallel revelation in a dream to the magi (v. 12) has secured time for the family’s escape. The angel’s message begins with exactly the same words as in v.20, “Rise, take the child and his mother …” Joseph’s action exactly matches the angelic instruction, while his setting off at night underlines the urgency of the situation (traveling by night was exceptional and potentially more dangerous). It also demonstrates Joseph’s exemplary obedience, which did not allow him even to delay until daylight. Continue reading