Genesis 15:1-6, 21:1-3; Ps 105:1-4, 6-9; Colossians 3:12-2; Luke 2:22-40
The Holy Spirit orchestrated many people around the birth of Jesus Christ. He continues to guide the Church on its journey on earth to heaven. The love of God came to earth through Jesus to bring us into a new heaven and earth.
We don’t know a lot about the personal lives of Mary and Joseph. They were certainly faithful Jews filled with all the graces necessary to bring Jesus into human history. We have the basics of Jewish family life in the Old Testament. Yet with 2,000 years of intervening history the Holy Spirit continues to guide us deeper into God’s plan for life. In the church worldwide the Vatican has identified 600 renewal movements that help awaken us for our unique role.
God’s plan for creation
God’s plan for ongoing creation is seen in plant, animal and human life. Science continues to discover God’s plan. A species can only reproduce its own kind. A man and women leave their parental homes and join together to form a new family unit into which God places his children to be protected, nurtured, formed and sent forth to continue creating and educating the human race. That is how we came to be.
We were not a "big bang" or a "test tube" product. Most of what and who we are was set at our conception when one egg and one sperm merged. That is why we regard life as so precious from that first moment until natural death. We also have an ancestral and genetic code, which makes us alike yet uniquely different from others even in our own family. We are either male or female.
We need to do more to help young people prepare safely for marriage and help them stay and grow in a committed relationship. They create a new unique family from their diversity. The church gives them a sacrament, special spiritual power to guide and help their growth. There are other things that can help like a Myers Briggs Personality Indicator or a Marriage Encounter.
The history of mankind and the history of salvation in Christ, passes through the family. The family is placed at the center of the great struggle between good and evil, between life and death, between Christian love and all that is opposed to that love.
St. Paul lists some Christian characteristics of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and in Colossians 3 today. "Put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another. If one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also forgive." Stability is necessary for this union into which God places his children to be properly cared for and prepared for life on their own. Marriage consists in the union of one man and one woman. Anything else can be a "civil union" but not a marriage; it cannot bear fruit. As Christians we must be firm on that point.
Pope Benedict teaches us
"The family is the privileged setting where every person learns to give and receive love…. The family is an intermediate institution between individuals and society, and nothing can completely take its place…. The family is a necessary good for peoples, an indispensable foundation for society and a great and lifelong treasure for couples. It is a unique good for children, who are meant to be the fruit of love, of the total and generous self-giving of their parents.
The family is also a school, which enables men and women to grow to the full measure of their humanity…. O God, Who in the Holy Family left us a perfect model of family life lived in faith and obedience to Your will, help us to be examples of faith and love for your commandments."
Evil forces in the world, directed by satan, are trying to take God out of our lives. They are working hard to destroy the family, priests and the church, young people and humanity itself. Young people are living together without getting married. We kill babies and save dogs and cats. That doesn’t make a lot of sense. According to statistics half of all marriages end in divorce and some with tragic consequences for the couple and the children. Perhaps Tolkien’s "Lord of the Rings," helped describe this when the evil master ordered destruction of all life on Middle earth. There are many other destructive attacks against humanity.
What's the answer?
What is the answer to all of these negative things? Let us go to Jesus, seek his truth and look to the ongoing guidance of the Church Jesus founded to continue his work on earth. The Catholic Church, as a single institution, is doing more to help people worldwide than any other organization. Are we perfect? No. Do we do everything perfectly? No! We are all frail human beings needing to work out our salvation by being faithful to God’s call in our lives. Daily we can go to Jesus to be filled with more grace to stand with Jesus against the confusion and darkness of the culture. Like Simeon and Anna in the Gospel today, God is sending us out with many gifts and new courage to point people around us to Jesus.
Look around at the young families in your parish and the glow they have with their growing children. I live in a good Catholic farming area. Forty percent of those in our local parish are young families. I love to thank the parents for saying, “yes” to new life. I love giving the children little pictures of Jesus. Their response is amazing.
We receive Jesus at Mass in communion and take him out into the world to bless others. Is that amazing?
Hope you had a wonderful Christmas. I pray you have a Safe and Happy New Year. Remember that Thursday, New Years, is a Holy Day of Obligation.Have a good week and a safe and Happy New Year and until we met again.
God bless you and yours,
+ Fr. Bob Hilz.
(© 2014 Fr. Bob Hilz, TOR