The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
Remember Christmas? That was 7 whole days ago! Since then, many of my neighbors have taken down the festive lights in front of their houses. I see trees, once standing in rooms, bedecked with ornaments and angels, now sitting on the curb and waiting for their final ride. And the stores have switched their displays from the red and green items to pink hearts, filled with chocolates.
But through all this, Christ is there.
I guess a lot of water has gone under the bridge since those final strains of “Joy to the World” were sung with gusto at the end of my last Liturgy on Monday. But still, it makes me sad.
But, in all time, Christ is there.
Which is silly! I don’t know why I’m still so amazed and shocked and saddened at how our culture so quickly pushes aside the past. This is nothing new – not for Christmas, or for Halloween, or for our history, or the destructive epic hurricanes or fires or horrific and murderous events and the lives they’ve left buried in the rubble they leave behind. This is nothing out of the ordinary… it happens every single time.
But, even through all this, Christ is there… if only we could recognize him in our midst.
“What did you get for Christmas this year?”
I hear this question a lot right now. The question I like to ask in return is, “Who is it that gave you this wonderful gift?” More often than not, the answer is “My Grandma,” or Mom, or Papa, or sister, or Uncle, or best friend, or… All of these people, our family (including the non-blood kind!), are part of God our Father’s endless Christmas gifts to us, and we are part of His gift to them.
And yes, in each gift, Christ is there.
Today’s Gospel explains how Mary & Joseph brought Jesus to the temple in order to “fulfill all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord.” And if I were a betting man, I’d wager that the Holy Family passed through the multitudes of people in that temple without any of them recognizing them as Mary and Joseph, or Jesus as the Christ – Emmanuel, God With Us.
Except for two people.
First was Simeon, to whom God had promised would not see death until he first saw the Christ, exclaims “Lord, now your servant may go in peace, for my eyes have seen your salvation.” And then there was Anna, a widow, who gave thanks to God for the child, the redeemer of Jerusalem.
Through all we experience, are we like the multitudes in the temple, going about our daily lives and ignoring the gift of God in every moment? Or are we like Simeon and Anna, open to the Holy Spirit screaming in our ear, “HEY – HERE I AM!”?
So what’s the true gift this Christmas? Who really is the “Holy Family” in today’s day and age?
“Our Father, who art in Heaven…”
Every one of us, we all are God’s children. God is Father to all of us, and we are all one family to each other. One crazy, silly, funny, upsetting, dysfunctional, loving, peaceful, amazing, Holy Family.
Ultimately, I suppose we do have to clean house after huge events like these. Even still, the members of this, our family, like it or not, become part of our history, woven into the fabric of our being.
So let’s do it together, my sisters and my brothers. Let’s clean up our lives of things we don’t need. Let’s pack up the tinsel with a lackluster shine. The ornaments with their plastic joy. The colored, twinkling, false light. Let’s toss the wrapping paper that once hid the material prize, but not the true gift of Christmas.
Let’s just be sure we don’t pack up Jesus, too.
Our Father, thank you for the gifts of our entire family… especially those whom we don’t like. Please help us know what it is we have that we can give for Christmas. Help us be Your hands, so we may bring our special gifts to those most in need… especially to those whom we don’t like. Amen.
Paul Puccinelli is Director of Liturgy & Music at St. Rita Parish in Sierra Madre, CA, and a member of the Retreat-Team at Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center.