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 27, 2009

For the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph

Luke 2:41-52

This is the last time in the Gospel that Jesus, Mary, and Joseph appear together.
It is the fulfillment of their mission as a family.
At merely twelve years of age, the boy Jesus already has questions, understanding, and answers that astound the teachers in the Temple.
He also has forthright self-knowledge to uphold God as his true Father, and his Father’s house as his own rightful place.
He even asks Mary and Joseph why they looked for him anywhere else but the Temple.
It is as if they should have already known the boy’s ways.
We can wonder if throughout his childhood in Nazareth he spent his spare minutes and hours in the synagogue.
The Gospel does not say.
However, later, when he is a grown man, the Gospel says over and again it was his custom to be in the synagogue every Sabbath— as if unfailing weekly attendance made him unique.
In the Old Law there is no obligation to go to the synagogue or Temple every Sabbath.
Nonetheless, Jesus did so.
In the Gospel today, the boy speaks to Mary and Joseph as if they should have known where to find him.
“Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
As if they should have already known Jerusalem meant only one thing to him: the Temple, his house of prayer, his Father’s house!
Years later he would use manly violence to cleanse the Temple of men who did not pray in it, but used it as a religious goods mall.
The boy Jesus— the worship-filled, prayer-filled boy, manly and wise beyond his years and those of the Temple teachers— lived with Mary and Joseph in Nazareth, subjecting himself to them, submitting to them, obeying them.
Mary—“his mother kept all these things in her heart.”
The angel Gabriel had told her the Holy Spirit would overshadow her with the power of the Most High, and she would conceive the Holy Son of God while remaining a virgin.
She was to call the boy “Jesus” from the Hebrew words, “Yahweh is salvation.”
He would be king of Israel forever.
Now twelve years have passed since she bore him.
Every year, she and Joseph have gone to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover.
Most likely they have brought Jesus with them every year to the Passover in Jerusalem.
Their annual Passover pilgrimage to Jerusalem is the only regular feature of their family life that the Gospel gives us.
A holy family whose identity is Passover pilgrimage to Jerusalem!
Today in the Gospel it is Passover time, and the boy is twelve years old.
He is at the doorway of Israelite manhood, the age for taking on a man’s responsibility for the commandments, the age for taking on a man’s official roles in the rituals of the synagogue.
The doorway of manhood for Jesus is the Passover in Jerusalem, a sign of things to come.
The Passover!
The night when God killed all the firstborn sons of the slave-driving Egyptians, but passed over the firstborn sons of the Israelite slaves who had shut themselves in behind doorways marked with the blood of a lamb of God!
The manhood of the boy Jesus lies through a bloodstained Passover doorway.
He has stepped through it at age twelve, taking on the responsibilities and roles of manhood under the life-and-death bloodstains of Passover.
Mary “kept all these things in her heart.”
Even though Jesus goes back to Nazareth with her and Joseph, and subjects himself to them, submits to them, obeys them, things are never the same.
The rest of the Gospel shows us only the grown manhood of Jesus—culminating in the bloodstains of Jesus himself, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
Jesus is both the Lamb and the bloodstained doorway for all the people of God to enter, that they might be free of sin’s slavery and be free to live forever as sons and daughters of God in the heavenly Jerusalem— heaven on earth.
In their yearly Passover pilgrimage to the earthly Jerusalem of old, Mary and Joseph have done what is humanly possible to ready Jesus for his own Passover to end all Passovers.
All Christian families, all monasteries, all the Church— we all have the mission of raising the sons and daughters of God and of being raised as sons and daughters of God.
We are his children, whom he calls through the bloodstained Passover Doorway that is Christ.
The dark night outside the door is the slavery of sin.
Through Christ, with him, in him, is the exodus to bright freedom in his Father’s house.
May the prayers of St. Joseph help us on our obedient pilgrimage!
May the prayers of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus, help us to keep all the mysteries of Jesus in our hearts as she keeps them in hers!
Obedient to Mary and Joseph, even Jesus the Lord “advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man.”
Together with Jesus, with his example and power, we can choose to “man up,” and thereby become free in taking responsibility for the commandments and for offering our lives in the worship of his Father and ours.

UT IN OMNIBUS GLORIFICETUR DEUS
That God Be Glorified in All







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