The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, December 27, 2020
(Genesis 15: 1-6.21: 1-3; Hebrews 11: 8.11-12.17-19; Luke 2: 22-40)
There is a lot of talk about privilege these days. Some say that the person is privileged if he has rich parents. Others count as a privilege to have attended a private school. Still others claim that white people are privileged. It is true wealth and good education are considerable benefits. However, they are not as helpful as having just parents. We see these kinds of parents in the Mass readings today.
In the first and second readings Abram and Sarah are shown as a couple committed to the Lord. Abram leaves his father when he receives the call from God. Even though Sarah has not borne him children, Abram remains faithful to her. It is true that on Sarah’s insistence Abram has relations with his slave. But when Sara realizes her mistake, the two send the slave and her son packing. Above all, Abram manifests justice when God tests him to the core of his being. He does not deny God, if it is His will, the sacrifice of his only son.
With even more coherence, Mary and Joseph act as righteous people. They go to Bethlehem where Jesus is born in obedience to imperial law. The gospel today shows them heeding God's law when they present Jesus in the temple. Later in this gospel, Jesus will call his mother and brothers "’those who listen to the Word of God and carry it out.’" This is not a rejection of Mary but the opposite. Because she always keeps God's word, Mary can be considered his mother in two senses.
It can be truly said that there is currently a need for righteous parents. The social environment distorts the values necessary to please God. Listen to the "Christmas songs." They once expressed the wonder of having the Son of God with us. Now they are absorbed with craving for consumer gifts. Another distortion can be seen in the presentation of promiscuity. Out of wedlock sex is portrayed in cinemas and television as good for both teens and adults.
In this environment, parents have to reflect Jesus. He will always be "the light to the nations" as Simeon calls him in the gospel. Mothers reflect Jesus when they instruct their children about God. Children need not only to learn prayers but also to hear of God's love. Fathers reflect “the light to the nations” when they convey the correct understanding of sex to their children. Teenagers, if not younger children, have to learn that intimate relationships are reserved for marriage. They have to appreciate that sex is not for self- gratification but to express total commitment to the other forever.
We are ending a year that has been both promising and miserable. It was miserable because of all the problems the virus caused. It was promising because families spent more time together. We hope that 2021 will be better in terms of health, work, and school. But may this New Year see the continuation of families spending time together. And may their coming together transmit values worthy of Jesus, the light to the nations.