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Bulletin: December 27, 2020

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The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph


On this feast of the Holy Family, we want to offer all families blessings. “Family” may have a lot of different connotations these days. In the United States, the “father, mother, child” family is less common now, and large Catholic families are not as common as they once were. The concept of family is more fluid with many forms of blended families due to second marriages, multigenerational households, and other living arrangements. In a recent survey by the Pew research center, four in ten babies are born to single mothers. Other children are being raised by grandparents or foster parents. In today’s Genesis story, Abraham was ready to concede to another form of family, making the child of one of his servants his heir. The reading from Hebrews reiterates the story of Genesis, and “your descendants will be more numerous than the stars.” The Gospel relates the story of the presentation in the temple.


POWER IN PRESCRIBED RITUALS

Joseph and Mary presented Jesus in the temple at eight days old, as was prescribed by Mosaic law. For many Catholic families, baptismal gowns were handed down through generations, and a baptism was a time of great celebration. Sadly, in our culture, baptisms continue to decline. There are many reasons for this: fewer practicing Catholics, more interfaith marriages, more secular weddings, fewer weddings by clergy, and problems or misunderstandings that turn people away. Many have left the church altogether because of the way they were treated. For some the parish is not a welcoming place. For others baptism has become just a ritual they go through for the sake of the grandparents.


EXAMPLES IN OUR ELDERS

When someone does present a child for baptism, it can become too easy for others to pass judgment because the parents don’t know the rubrics well, or aren’t dressed better, or “why is that single mother having her baby baptized during Mass?” Notice that the Gospel says nothing about the priests of the temple and how they received Jesus. Rather it talks about Simeon and Anna. They are worth a study in themselves. Simeon is a devout man who is there waiting for a particular sign, and it is fulfilled when he see the Christ Child. Anna is just in the temple praying, as is her custom. After the presentation of Jesus, she does what she does best—she goes back to praying in the temple. Perhaps these readings teach us how we as a faith community can see the sacredness in those families presenting their children for baptism, and welcome them as did Anna and Simeon. May we all learn from their wisdom!

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