One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

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The Word of God and the Body of God reveal each other -- the homily worships both.

December 31, 2006

For the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Sunday, 31 December A.D. 2006

Luke 2:41-52

Today in the Gospel is the LAST time we see the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph together.
It is also the FIRST time in the Gospel that we hear Jesus speak.
WHY WERE YOU LOOKING FOR ME?
DID YOU NOT KNOW THAT I MUST BE IN MY FATHER’S HOUSE?

Although he is only twelve years of age, his words today are not the words of a boy, but the words of a self-aware man with a mission.
I MUST BE IN MY FATHER’S HOUSE

With knowledge far beyond his boyish twelve years, Jesus speaks of God as his Father and of the National Temple as his Father’s House.
However, the Gospel then suddenly reports that Jesus went to live with Mary and Joseph in Nazareth and he obediently submitted to them.
We have extremes of paradox here.
From the Great National Temple in Jerusalem to the town of Nazareth, a place so little thought of that years later one of the apostles asks, “Nazareth— can anything good come from there?”
We have the paradox of a twelve-year-old boy who knows he is the Son of God.
Paradox again in Mary who gave birth to him but is nonetheless a virgin.
Joseph, too, is a paradox: a silent village craftsman who in his sleep receives visits and instructions from an angel.
In what the Gospel lets us see of this holy and most unusual family, there is much that is unstable and undesirable.
We first meet them homeless in Bethlehem.
We watch them escape into Egypt as refugees.
Today we see them as pilgrims, with Mary and Joseph terror-stricken as they search for the boy Jesus for three days.
When they finally find him in the Temple he tells them he doesn’t belong with them.
I MUST BE IN MY FATHER’S HOUSE

At that, the Gospel tells us Mary and Joseph did not understand him.
They have personally cared for this Man-Child for twelve years since his birth, but his mission, his mind and his message still seem mysterious for them.
I MUST BE IN MY FATHER’S HOUSE

Nonetheless, the Son of God returns with them to that famously “good-for-nothing” town of Nazareth and places himself under obedience to them.
Then, that is the last that the Gospel ever has to say of St. Joseph.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
We call them “The Holy Family.”
We admire them.
Yet, there is much in their experience as a family that we would never wish for our own families.
Despite that, they do show us the essential and great mission of every Christian family: to give glory to God and to serve the good of the human race.
On the night that Christ was born of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the watchful care of St. Joseph— ON THE NIGHT THAT JESUS, MARY AND JOSEPH WERE BORN AS A FAMILY— an angel together with a great army from heaven sang of the mission that Jesus would serve: GIVE GLORY TO GOD, AND BRING THE PEACE OF GOD’S FAVOR TO ALL ON EARTH.
The Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph join our Lord Jesus the Son of God to serve the glory of God and the good of the human race.
Today, you and I with all the angels and saints, together with Mary and Joseph— we have all come looking for Jesus here in the Church, his Father’s House … OUR Father’s House.
Like the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, in our own lives we may meet with days and seasons of instability, homelessness, exile, terror, and mystery.
Yet one thing is always stable and sure.
Jesus makes a home for us in his own Father’s house.
That is for our eternal benefit and for the glory of the Father.
As he went down to Nazareth, and put himself under obedience to Mary and Joseph, so also in the Eucharist of his Body and Blood he comes down to the towns where we live, and he offers himself up in obedience for the glory of the Father and for our salvation.

UT IN OMNIBUS GLORIFICETUR DEUS
That God Be Glorified in All







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