Click play below to listen to Deacon Michael’s homily from the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Immediately after Christmas, the commercial holiday season ended. Christmas decoration were taken out of store windows and put away for another year. But in our churches and many of our homes, Christians kept their nativity sets visible. For us the Christmas season did not end with the shopping season. We celebrated with series of solemnities including Mary the Mother of God and Epiphany. Because of the length of Advent and the shortness of Christmastide we are celebrating our patronal feast, the Holy Family this weekend. I am sort of glad that we have this one last opportunity to share this joy. The joy of God-with-us, Emmanuel.
Today’s gospel jars us from that tranquil scene of the stable, the shepherds and the wise men kneeling in adoration. The magi, we are told in the gospel’s opening line, have departed. The mood of today’s account is frantic and danger lurks for the child and his parents. Herod feels his authority is threatened by the child. Earlier the magi went to Herod seeking to know where the King of the Jews was to be born. Herod feels his grip on power threatened by the news the magi bring and he is enraged when the magi don’t return to tell him where they found the babe. He has the male infants of Judea killed in an attempt to eliminate a potential rival to his power. Warned by an angel the Holy Family is forced into exile. They flee to Egypt.
Matthew’s gospel has strong Jewish themes. He tells his story of the Holy Family with the history of Israel as a backdrop. A Jewish reader, or a Jewish Christian, would quickly identify the child’s plight with Israel’s own painful history of persecution. Jesus is reliving the history of Israel and Matthew uses a verse from Hosea to underline this, “Out of Egypt I have called my son” (11:1). Just as God had once rescued the people from the evil Egyptian pharaoh, so God is protecting the child Jesus and his parents from Herod’s deadly plans.
When Matthew began his gospel we were told that the name of the child to be born to Mary was to be, “Emmanuel, a name which means, ‘God is with us'” (1:23). So, how is “God with us,” at this moment in the holy narrative? In Jesus God has joined the plight of the world’s refugees who have had to flee their homes because of power-hungry despots and the civil conflict they always create. The vulnerable “holy family” is fleeing for its safety. When we look for God’s presence in the world, Matthew is suggesting we look toward the poor and oppressed. God is on the side of those pushed around by the powerful. This will be a consistent message in Matthew and towards the end of the gospel we will hear Jesus state quite explicitly, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me…”(25: 35).
Today we have to allow our image of the peaceful “holy card” family to give way to the more realistic image of a young couple with anxiety written all over their faces fleeing with a child across the border. It shouldn’t take too much imagination to envision that scene since we have seen it reproduced countless times in television news reports and on the front pages of our newspapers for quite some time now as they report on the displacement of thousands in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria and at our own borders. It seems every part of the world these days is teaming with the vulnerable and displaced. Jesus, Mary and Joseph are kin to them all.
Immigration is a current “hot topic” in our national political debate. But the issue isn’t just a political, legal and economic one. It is also a human one. A spiritual one because it is a situation in which God himself has participated. As you know if you read the Criterion, our bishops, speaking for the whole Church on the eve of National Migration week, have said the this week is an opportunity to embrace the important work of continuing to secure the border, to welcome the stranger, and serve the most vulnerable. The feast of the Holy Family is an appropriate one to stir our thoughts on all refugees who like the Holy Family have needed angels to guide them and people like you and me to help them.
Once a little boy on his way to school stopped to watch an old man working with his knife on a block of wood. “Grandfather,” asked the little boy respectfully, “what are you doing?” “I am making a gift for you, child,” he said with a smile. “Come back this way after your classes and it will be ready.” The boy was excited and all day he could barely keep his mind on his studies. When the final bell rang he threw his books in a bag and bolted down the street. True to his word the old man was sitting at his bench with a paper bag beside him. “Grandfather, please show me what you made for me,“ the boy said breathlessly. “All right, but close your eyes.” The old man took his work out of the sack and said, “You can look now.” The little boy open his eyes and his mouth fell open. “Grandfather, how did you know there was lion hiding in that block of wood?”
Tonight my friends we are children again, gazing in wonder at what our God has been up to these many hundreds of thousands of years. He has been patiently and lovingly whittling at creation and today/night he reveals what he has been working on. As we gaze at the Christ Child with the little boy of our story we cry out, “Oh Lord God, how did you know there was such beauty, such simplicity, such vulnerability, and strength in our humanity? How did you know there was a lion hiding in your creation? But there he is. God, looking back at us through human eyes.
You see, before God flung stars into the sky and set the galaxies whirling into deepest space. Before earth’s molten crust cooled and gave birth to her seas. Before the first tiny one-celled animals dared to throw themselves up on land. Before any human voice broke the silence of night in a primal song…God was preparing for this moment. The moment when Eternal Love would join his human voice to ours.
In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.
Everything is made from this pattern that lies before us in the manger. Every tree and flower and bird and fish and child is cut from this fabric. The Incarnation – God become human – is the secret waiting to be revealed from all eternity; Christ was the lion hiding in the rough wood of Creation. As St. Paul tell us “In Him all things were created, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities. All things were created through Him and for Him. He us before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”
Christ did not come to simply repair what was broken; he came to reveal what had been hidden and is finally revealed to those who look at the world as God does – with love. God is hiding in plain sight. He plays hide-and-seek in every sunset; in the pattern of frost on our window pane; in the grip of a newborn child around our finger. We are each a way in which God takes pleasure in his goodness. True, sometimes our sin and foolish pride distorts the sacred image in us and God must fashion us anew. But Christ is and has always been and always will be “the dearest deep-down freshness in things.” I offer you a poem by Joseph Mary Plunkett which says this much better than I have…
I see his blood upon the rose,
And in the stars the glory of his eyes.
His body gleams amid eternal snow
His tears fall from the skies.
I see his face in ev’ry flower;
The thunder and the singing of birds
Are but his voice – and carven by his power
Rocks are his written word.
All pathways by his feet are worn
His strong heart stirs the ever-beating sea;
His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn,
His cross is ev’ry tree.
May what delights God so in Christ become flesh again in you and me.
The High School Venture session on Wednesday, December 28th will be held in the Rectory with Pizza provided by Father Dan at 8pm. Make plans to attend this evening of fun!!
Listen to Deacon Michael’s homily from the Second Sunday of Advent!
The Holy Family Marketing Committee will be hosting a St. Nicholas Social on Saturday, December 3rd in the school cafeteria. The social is from 9-10am and open to children ages 2-5 years old, but feel free to bring a friend/family that has interest in Holy Family School.There will be Christmas music, a story about St. Nick, a craft and refreshments. We will give the children a piece of candy and a Holy Family School token.
Do you need a little something to show off your Holy Family School spirit? Check the form below to purchase some spirit items for your family and friends. Purchasing these spirit items also helps our 8th grade class raise money for their trip to Washington, D.C. All orders are due by August 17th and will be delivered to school in mid-to-late September. Return the form with payment (cash or a check payable to RiverCity Workwear) into the school office no later than August 17th. You may also click here to order online.
Please Re-enroll in the Kroger Community Rewards Program benefitting our school. Re-enrollment starts August 1.
How to RE-ENROLL in Kroger Community Rewards:
- Go to www.Kroger.com
- Click the blue Sign In tab at top of the page.
- Enter your email address and password and click the blue Sign In tab.
- From the department menu, click Community, then Community Rewards
- From Community Rewards, click on the Edit or Re-enroll button.
- a. Find Organization
- b. Select Holy Family School (Click the button to the left of the organization)
- c. Save your Selection (Click the Save button to save your selection.)
Call 1-800-KROGERS, Option #3, with questions.
CONNECTED IN THE SPIRIT
Holy Family. Our Lady of Perpetual Help. St. Anthony of Padua. St. Mary of the Annunciation
Our Connected in the Spirit pastoral planning entered the next phase on June 29, when our cohort received the Archdiocesan Planning Commission’s Preliminary Recommendations to our Suggestion submitted earlier this summer. The Commission affirmed our suggested “Partnership” model which we discerned after months of prayer, reflection and discussion. That model, as we have proposed it, envisions a deliberate collaboration between our cohort parishes – Holy Family, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, St. Anthony of Padua, and St. Mary of the Annunciation — so as to conserve resources, strengthen and enhance ministry, expand our outreach, and provide more opportunities to deepen our faith and relationships.
The Partnership Model, which we see as a way to grow stronger in faith and friendship, will be manifested and maintained by the creation of an Inter-Parish Council, with representative membership from each cohort parish. That Council will serve as an effective forum to foster and support the exchange of ideas and to facilitate communication between the cohort parishes. Some of the initiatives that the Inter-Parish Council will explore may include the following:
- collaboration in the RCIA process and Youth Ministry;
- joint programs or training opportunities for lay ministry, including bereavement counseling;
- common opportunities for catechesis, formation or workshops; and
- joint para-liturgical celebrations or devotional events.
We made our suggestion for partnering based upon a comprehensive study of the individual dynamics of our parishes and the feedback garnered through conversations with our parishioners. It is our sincere hope that partnering will make our parishes more vibrant places of worship. But, perhaps more importantly, by working together we aspire to increase the living presence of Jesus Christ in our local community.
The Archdiocesan Planning Commission will make a Final Recommendation to Archbishop Tobin by or about October 1, and he will ultimately make the final decision for planning purposes. If our Partnership Model is approved, we will immediately begin preparing to implement that model by July, 2017.
As a cohort, we are grateful for the Archbishop’s challenge to deepen our faith and live the Gospel in the circumstances of our times. Please join us in praying that, by coming together to share our unique gifts and talents, we will discover the beauty of a truly “catholic” church in Southern Indiana.