A Cycle – Feast of the Holy Family 19
Col. 3: 12-21
I admit I love the season of Christmas. I love the season, the change in weather, snow, the festive mood of the people you encounter in the malls, the quest to find the perfect gift, the family coming together to celebrate and who does not like giving or receiving gifts.
I will also admit the one thing I missed most while living in Tennessee was St. Basil’s at Christmas. St. Basil’s touches something deeper in celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. The music, the environment, the spirit of the community, the children’s masses, the homilies, combined to transport you to the join in the joy of the angels who proclaimed, “the savior has come.”
But to most people Christmas is over the next day. The festive atmosphere is gone from the malls and people are no longer as joyful, they are back to business mode. I noticed this within my own family as grand kids, great grand kids, and their parents leave to return to their homes and back to life as usual.
Today as we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family and the environment in the church remains the same, the music remains the same, you are back in your normal places in the pews but in other ways Jesus’s birth is like our own – we celebrate it and the next day we move on.
But the birth of Christ has significant meaning for us, and we should never move away from its significance to us. We can learn how to daily respond to Christ coming by paying attention to revelation of Jesus in the scriptures and the response of the people to Jesus. The problem is most of the passages are so familiar we nod in agreement but don’t take the time to reflect on what God is saying to us.
Paul tells us in this second letter to Timothy, all scripture gives us wisdom for salvation. What are today readings saying to us today about responding to the one who came to redeem us. Not what they say about Mary, Joseph and Jesus but what do they say to us. See we tend to believe we could never compare to Mary and Joseph because they were specially prepared for their role in salvation history. But God has told us we are just as special in His eyes and we too have been gifted at the moment of our conception; each of us have been gifted for our role in bringing Christ to others.
We tend to forget that both Mary and Joseph did not understand how they could fulfill God’s plan. Yet even with them not understanding anything God was asking of them, each of them trusted and believed God would give them the wisdom, the understanding and the courage to submit to God’s will. We are told in the scriptures; Mary pondered the events surrounding Jesus’s life in her heart. From those simple words we learn the Christian life unfolds for us and we mist stop and reflect on the things God is doing within us as we take those first steps to follow His will.
Did you ever wonder what went through Mary and Joseph’s mind that night? Angles singing, a star shining with beams of radiant light lighting up the place, shepherds appearing acknowledging Jesus as the promised one of God. The truth is we can only speculate for the scriptures tell us nothing about their response other than they accepted the impossible and trusted God for the wisdom to properly relate to Jesus as parents and as disciples.
In many ways there are great lessons for us to learn if we ponder the words of God in our hearts. Paul today in his letter to the Colossians gives us the first step we need to take in response to Jesus’s coming. He tells us to put on Christ. This putting on of Christ is a willful, deliberate action to allow God to lead us and to always seek to do His will. It is a willful deliberate decision to wear our belief in Jesus outwardly and boldly.
It begins with a decision live the Christian life beyond just coming to church on Sunday; it is a bold step to allow God to change your heart as He promised He would do. Being a disciple requires more than we are embracing now. It requires us to embrace a life of doing what Mary and Joseph did and say yes to interacting with Jesus daily and reflecting on the things we hear and feel from that interaction.
Paul tells us to put on Christ means to put on compassion, kindness, humility, patience and bearing with one another and forgiving each other. Those qualities are not something we can just decide to put on like a new set of clothes, no they are the fruit of the Holy Spirit who dwells in each of us. Mary was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit and the result was complete submission to God’s will. This is the same Spirit Jesus promised to send to us, the same Spirit God promised to send to us to change us so we too would do God’s will.
Mary was changed by her encounter; Joseph was changed by his encounter; the disciples were changed by their encounter, Moses was changed by his encounter and we too will be changed by our encounter if we learn from the scriptures how we like Mary and Joseph did must embrace God’s will and embrace Jesus Christ.
It is a decision to live your faith in the face of opposition, in the face of temptation, in the face of forces trying to push Christianity out of the public arena and silence your witness. Joseph and Mary showed us – God is with us and will provide all we need to be strong witnesses of our faith.
On this feast of the Holy Family, look beyond Joseph and Mary to discover the body of Christ here at Basil’s, a body willing to overlook who you once were and help you discover the person God created you to be.