Meeting Christ in the Liturgy

Feast of the Holy Family 

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Feast of the Holy Family
Sirach 3, 2-6. 12-14; Psalm 128; Colossians 3, 12-21; Matthew 2, 13-15. 19-23

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Jesus Christ born at Christmas is the light born into a world of darkness. The powers of darkness rise up in opposition to his truth and goodness and seek to overthrow him. Joseph is warned in a dream several times in the infancy of our Lord to rise up, take the child and his mother and flee from those who seek to take his life. Today, also, the goodness and holiness of Christ arouses the rage and fury of the devil and his angels. Anyone who bears the name Christian must realize their own share in the battle against sin and darkness. But the breastplate and armor of Christ are sufficient protection against any assaults the devil might mount. The devil must work through human beings who choose to cooperate with him in his works of darkness, as he has no power of his own against God. Prayers of exorcism are as relevant today as they have ever been in the lives of Christians. The Catechism speaks of the events in the life of the infant Christ as part of the cosmic struggle between the devil and God.

The flight into Egypt and the massacre of the innocents (Mt 2:13-18) make manifest the opposition of darkness to the light: 'He came to his own home, and his own people received him not.' (Jn 1:11) Christ's whole life was lived under the sign of persecution. His own share it with him. (Jn 15:20) Jesus' departure from Egypt recalls the exodus and presents him as the definitive liberator of God's people. (Mt 2:15). (CCC 530)

We are members of the family of God, the people of light, who are conformed by baptism to Christ. We share his grace so that, conformed to his suffering and death, we may rise with him to "newness of life." We have joined the cosmic struggle between darkness and light, but go forward to battle confident that his "yoke is easy" and his "burden is light." He is victorious over sin and death, and we too share in that victory through faithfulness and perseverance on the day of battle.

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy", Father Cusick

Meeting Christ in the Liturgy

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Feast of the Holy Family

Sirach 3:2-6,12-14; Psalm 128; Colossians 3:12-21; Luke 2:22-40

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

"This child is destined to be...a sign that will be opposed - and you yourself shall be pierced with a sword ." Simeon the prophet greets the Holy Family with words grim and foreboding. Welcoming a new child into the world is a joyful time, a moment full of hope and promise. But this man, inspired by the Holy Spirit, speaks words which inspire trepidation, not expectation.

"The presentation of Jesus in the temple shows him to be the firstborn Son who belongs to the Lord. (Lk 2:22-39; Ex 13:2, 12-13) With Simeon and Anna, all Israel awaits its encounter with the Savior - the name given to this event in the Byzantine tradition. Jesus is recognized as the long-expected Messiah, the 'light to the nations' and the 'glory of Israel,' but also 'a sign that is spoken against.' The sword of sorrow predicted for Mary announces Christ's perfect and unique oblation on the cross that will impart the salvation God had 'prepared in the presence of all peoples.'

To welcome any child into a family is a time of joy, but every life also includes the sword of sorrow. The Holy Family is the model for all families, the "icon" of the family. Every family, according to God's plan, begins in the bond of a man-husband and a woman-wife, who share in an exclusive and life-long commitment. In responsible parenthood the married man and woman preserve the right of every child to be brought into the world within this bond of one man and one woman. The family of our Lord is holy, not only because Jesus is the God-Man and Mary is an immaculate creature and Joseph a saint, but also because of their love for and obedience to God's plan and their service of one another.

Today the family is the subject of social manipulation and experimentation, a tragedy with far-reaching implications. We may use the name 'family' to describe whatever we please, but God has made plain, through Jesus, Mary and Joseph, his will for every family. Every child has a right to enjoy the security of committed love and consistent example, both of a man-father and a woman-mother. If any woman was capable of running a household singlehandedly, our Lady was, and God might very well have asked Mary to go it alone, but he didn't. He called on Joseph to marry, love and protect our Lady and to be the foster-father of the God-Man, Jesus. God demands that each child have the gift of an authentic family life. Under God's law, every child has a right to be naturally conceived. The divine Artisan has crafted man and woman such that they are capable together of bringing new life about in a manner particular and never to be replaced. The child-yet-to-be-conceived depends completely upon the holy cooperation of man and woman with God in this regard.

Every family must struggle, as the Holy Family did, not only to do God's will when it is easy but also when it calls for sacrifice or hardship. In a recent audience, our Holy Father spoke on Simeon's prophecy of the "sword" which would pierce Mary's heart with sorrow. In the shadow of that prophecy, the Pope pointed out, the Virgin Mary "united her life, in an intense and mysterious fashion, to the sorrowful mission of Christ. She became a faithful cooperator with her son for the salvation of the human race."

Because of our encounter with the Savior and his family, we know that God's grace enables us to struggle, despite our sinfulness, to live up to his plan for the family. Though without sin, the family of the Savior was not shielded from hardship. Do we expect to attain our call to holiness without some sacrifice, toil, or self-denial? We know that forgiveness, given to us with the new-born Christ and completed on the cross, makes it possible for husbands and wives to live in a love of generous reconciliation with each other. Their deepening relationship provides the environment of security and well-being that nourishes every child's deepest hunger, the hunger for love.

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy." Father Cusick

(See also CCC 149, 529, 575, 583, 587, 618, 695, 711, 713.)  

Meeting Christ in the Liturgy

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Feast of the Holy Family

Sirach 3:2-6,12-14; Psalm 128, 1-2. 3. 4-5; Colossians 3:12-21; St. Luke 2: 41-52

In these days following our Lord's birth, we contemplate the mysteries of his hidden life at Nazareth.

During the greater part of his life Jesus shared the condition of the vast majority of human beings: a daily life spent without evident greatness, a life of manual labor. His religious life was that of a Jew obedient to the law of God, (Cf. Gal 4:4) a life in the community. From this whole period it is revealed to us that Jesus was "obedient" to his parents and that he "increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man." (Lk 2:51-52.) (CCC 531)

Jesus's obedience to his mother and legal father fulfills the fourth commandment perfectly and was the temporal image of his filial obedience to his Father in heaven. The everyday obedience of Jesus to Joseph and Mary both announced and anticipated the obedience of Holy Thursday: "Not my will..."(Lk 22:42) The obedience of Christ in the daily routine of his hidden life was already inaugurating his work of restoring what the disobedience of Adam had destroyed. (Cf. Rom 5:19) (CCC 532)

The hidden life at Nazareth allows everyone to enter into fellowship with Jesus by the most ordinary events of daily life:

The home of Nazareth is the school where we begin to understand the life of Jesus--the school of the Gospel. First, then, a lesson of silence. May esteem for silence, that admirable and indispensable condition of mind, revive in us...A lesson on family life. May Nazareth teach us what family life is, its communion of love, its austere and simple beauty, and its sacred and inviolable character...A lesson of work. Nazareth, home of the Carpenter's Son," in you I would choose to understand and proclaim the severe and redeeming law of human work...To conclude, I want to greet all the workers of the world, holding up to them their great pattern, their brother who is God. (Paul VI at Nazareth, January 5, 1964: LH, Feast of the Holy Family, OR.) (CCC 533)

The finding of Jesus in the temple is the only event that breaks the silence of the Gospels about the hidden years of Jesus. (Cf. Lk 2: 41-52) Here Jesus lets us catch a glimpse of the mystery of his total consecration to a mission that flows from his divine sonship: "Did you not know that I must be about my Father's work?" (Lk 2:49 alt.) Mary and Joseph did not understand these words, but they accepted them in faith. Mary "kept all these things in her heart" during the years Jesus remained hidden in the silence of an ordinary life. (CCC 534)

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we, we "meet Christ in the liturgy", Father Cusick
(See also paragraphs 472, 503, 517, 531, 583, 2196, 2599 in the CCC.)

Meeting Christ in the Liturgy

(Publish with permission.)