God’s Secret in Our Own Back Yard
December 30, 2016 (readings)
Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph
Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23
When the magi 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." Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. 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." When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi, he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi. Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet: "A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, since they were no more." When Herod had died, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child's life are dead." He rose, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go back there. And because he had been warned in a dream, he departed for the region of Galilee. He went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, "He shall be called a Nazorean."
Introductory Prayer: Lord, you are my friend, my Father, and my protector. I come to you on this new day confident in your presence. I renew my love for you, trusting in your guiding hand.
Petition: Help me to encounter you more deeply in this moment. Help me to encounter you more deeply in those around me.
1. We Are Often Not Worthy of Those around Us: In God’s plan, the family is a mystery of love. Today we celebrate the gift of love that we experience so often within the family. Here God shows us the way each member of the family contributes to the working of God in our lives, how he helps us experience his closeness and protection through the closeness and intimacy of family relations. We can think how proud Mary was to have a husband like St. Joseph, a man who was so strong and loving, and yet so unassuming and humble he was willing to risk everything to protect her and Jesus. We can think of the tremendous respect and awe that St. Joseph had for the beauty of Mary’s heart and for God’s entrustment to him of these two most special people, Jesus and Mary. Do I show this wonder and awe at the goodness of those around me, especially in my family?
2. God’s Plan of Salvation Passes through the Family: Is there anything more natural to man than the family? Yet we discover today in a special way that God accomplishes his plan of salvation so often through the quiet, hidden love of the family. The sacrifices that its members makes for each other open them to be instruments of God’s grace and love for the wider family that God wants to build in the world. We have good news about the family! In this school of love and sacrifice God prepares his missionaries for the salvation of the world. Do I strive to learn anew each day to be an instrument of God’s love for others in my family? Do I make my family a school of evangelization through my imitating Christ’s virtues there and building up a culture of life inside and outside my family?
3. “He Shall Be Called a Nazorean”: Nazareth was not the most likely place to find the Messiah, and yet that is exactly where God wanted to be. Do I sometimes think that my family cannot be a place where God is truly present, because I so easily notice the defects of my spouse, children, parents and relatives? Am I able to wonder at the work that God is quietly accomplishing in these real, limited, yet amazing people around me? The Church is also my family. Do I sometimes criticize the failings of others in the Church rather than build her up, or do I focus on the positive, using my energy to help in the new evangelization rather than wasting it on complaining?
Conversation with Christ: Lord, thank you for making the family your home. Help me learn from you, Jesus, Mary and St. Joseph, to live for others. Thank you for showing me the power of your grace working through the concrete, sometimes difficult circumstances of my family. Help me to build up love in my family and in the family of the Church.
Resolution: I will make a special effort today to say at least one positive thing about each member of my family.