Homily for Christmas / Holy Family 2015
Sally Brochu, ARCWP
We didn’t have liturgy here in this space yesterday so we decided to take “Christmas on the Road” and visit one of our very dear members, Eileen, in a Rehab Center where she is currently receiving care. It was a warm and memorable experience for us and we hope for her.
So today, I would like to look at two things: Christmas and the Feast of the Holy Family through which God in the person of Jesus entered our humanity and whose life was one of love, teaching, challenging, healing - all within the context of, becoming a fully human person within a family. That is what each of us is called to do – to become fully human. That is so pleasing to God. It is our life’s work as a human being. And it begins with our unique creation by God – with the help of our parents. God saw us as good, not this little child born with original sin, but as a child who is loved and cherished and good.
This was clarified by Franciscan Duns Scotus who was a theologian and who lived about 1300 AD. He taught that we are born without sin, just like Jesus, just like Mary! He celebrated the Theology of Original Blessing that God created us good, or as Genesis says, “very good”, with that spark of the divine that connects us to God and each other. Sadly, our society is so full of the contrasting theology of Benedictine theologian Anselm, who lived around 1200 AD who, trying to understand why evil came into the world, developed the Theology of Atonement. Because of this, it is sometimes hard for us to see ourselves as good, as God sees us. We were taught that we needed to be baptized to be forgiven of this original sin. Jesus’s death then was his taking on our sins and saving us. Now, think for a moment – when you look into the eyes of a newborn - what do you see? Sin? I don’t think so. We see beauty and wonder and goodness. If we look close enough, we can see God.
So let’s look at this child Jesus. Like us, he was born to a young woman, Mary, whom according to archeologist and scripture scholar, Dorothy Irvin, whose research shows that Mary was well educated. Her father, Joachim taught in the temple and Anna, her mother, also spent much time in the temple praying, listening to scripture being read and taught, and probably teaching it to the women. Like most mothers, Anna taught her daughter. Anna’s wisdom was handed on to Mary, and Mary’s wisdom was handed on to Jesus! I think too we discount Joseph and the impact he had on Jesus as he grew up. Yet as all of us know who have raised children, it wasn’t easy all the time. In today’s scripture, we realize that Jesus was an extra-ordinary, yet ordinary, kid. He drove his parents nuts at times, even disappearing from the caravan, and taking off for the temple! Yet, bottom line, Mary and Joseph must have been loving and caring parents because scripture also says that Jesus grew in wisdom, the wisdom and goodness that his parents, and his grandparents, taught him and modeled for him. These were his Jewish roots, his values, his knowing that he was loved, that he took with him into adulthood and his earthly ministry.
Now we know that many of us don’t come from families as loving as Jesus’ family. Our parents may not have been good parents. Sadly, they were products of their broken upbringing. Yet still, we can look to Jesus, Mary & Joseph and see within that family unit what was good. It may not have been perfect either, but we can adopt their example for our own lives. We can choose to break the dysfunctional cycle of our family units and make changes in our lives so that love is at the heart and center of our relationships. We also know that there are many kinds of family units, not just the nuclear family with mother, father, child or children. We have single moms’ families, same sex families, grandmothers raising grand-children families, adopted families, foster care families, extended families. What is at the heart of these struggling and healthy families is love and the genuine caring for each other. Jesus said, where 2 or more are gathered, there I am. So Jesus is with us. He is with us in our families. We are now called to be Jesus in the world today. So let us continue to grow in wisdom and love of Jesus for one another.
I wish each of you, my extended family of Mary Mother of Jesus Community, a very Blessed Christmas and may you experience God’s goodness that each of us carries inside us, and may that love be brought forth into our world that so desperately needs to experience love.
Merry Christmas, everyone!
Question: What Christmas message do you carry in your heart?