Saturday, December 26, 2009

Feast of the Holy Family: "I must be in my Father's house"

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.)

Art: The Holy Family by Michelangelo.

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