Sunday, December 30, 2007

Sunday word, 30 Dec 2007

Holy Family A (30 Dec 2007) Sir 3.2-7,12-14; Ps 128; Col 3. 12-17; Mt 2. 13-15,19-23
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
That Wordless Voice

The solemnity of the Holy Family doesn’t attempt to make known Jesus’ hidden life, that time between Jesus’ infancy, 12th birthday and his emergence in Galilee 18 years later announcing, “The kingdom of heaven is in your midst!” Today we ponder with wonder the Holy Family in order to appreciate more deeply the love and peace the Incarnation made concrete in human history and human living.

With our Christmas trees decorated and bright and having been here at the Lord’s crib and his table not long ago, we can more easily ponder with wonder the Incarnation, our word for the desire of the Three Divine Persons from their eternity that the Second Person should also become a human being in order to save the human race./1/ Like us Jesus was born in need of care and grew caring to learn to be with others in need.

Out of love for us and all humans and to help us restore peace nonviolently, the Word of God became human. God become flesh, Emmanuel, God-with-us, arrests our hearts. Our Catholic heritage invites us to savor often subtle moments when our hearts skip beats because of God’s deep desires for us.

The Book of Sirach reminds us of one moment, a concrete consequence of the Incarnation, namely, patience. At every age patience marks children’s true devotion to their parents. Take care of your [parents] when [they grow] old; grieve [them] not as long as [they] live[]. Even if [their] mind[s] fail, be considerate of [them]. Parents, who model patience with their children, school their children in true devotion at home. True devotion at home spills over into the rest of life.

Patient living isn’t spectacular, yet it’s the goal of Christian living. Patient living is forgiving one the Lord has forgiven us, to use St. Paul’s phrasing. Christian patience is divine gift not our doing. We choose to cooperate with it or we don’t, which is why we need to see others model patience often.

Yet each of us can live lives of Christian patience because we are in Messiah Jesus. Our baptism gives us unrivaled access to him. In fact, St. Paul put his verses we heard today in the context of this consoling conviction: For you have died [and live] (= our baptism), and your life is hidden with Christ in God. If we talk about, pray for and ponder any “hidden life” then, it is our own life hidden with Christ in God about which we best converse, pray and ponder. Here “hidden” means Messiah Jesus safeguards our lives he was born to ransom for himself, his Father and their Holy Spirit. The Trinity will reveal to us our lives completely when Messiah Jesus returns in glory.

Until then patience marks Christ-like living. Patient living is quiet, often silent, but never empty. Nor is any family without its problems. Yet God works through everything for our good, which is why Pope Paul VI reminded us on his 1964 visit to Nazareth that each one’s imperfect family is “beautiful for the problems it poses and the rewards it brings.”/2/

As we close this calendar year we might pause in each of its final days to recall how God has worked for our good in all things, including our painful experiences. God does not cause our painful experiences, but God very actively works through them for our good in order to keep creating us in the divine image and likeness.

Pausing each of these final days to recall how God has worked for our good in all things helps us to be more “open to the [wordless] voice of God’s inner wisdom.”/3/

In your 15 minutes with Jesus this week compose yourself in the love the Trinity has for you. Ask the Holy Family to give you clearer vision of your life and your vocation. Pray for the grace to better appreciate their life at Nazareth, which has long been called the hidden life. Our lives-hidden-with-Christ-in-God doesn’t mean they are predictable, orderly, well arranged, always just right. Hidden with Christ Jesus means Christ Jesus safeguards our lives--even if appearances suggest the contrary to us. Close by saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer, which allows us to practice better the life of Jesus, who became flesh so that we could make his life more public!
/1/ St. Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises 102.
/2/ From an address by Pope Paul VI, 5 January 1964, in the Liturgy of the Hours, vol. 1, pp. 426-428.
/3/ Ibid.
Wiki-images, the Flight into Egypt and the Holy Family at home, are in the public domain.

No comments: