Bulletin: December 30, 2018

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The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph

Christmas celebrates the Incarnation, the “en-flesh-ment” of God as a human person. In Jesus, God is bodily present in the human story. Today we honor the Holy Family, helping us to see that God is active in daily family life. God is near at hand, amidst the tensions, joys, and uncertainties of family life. As our Gospel passage describes, even with family miscommunications and with limited understanding of Jesus’ mission, the Holy Family persevered in their life together. Like many family conflicts, there was no immediate or clear resolution of the issues raised by Jesus and by Mary. God’s intentions for the family, and for Jesus, were still unfolding. They continued to stay connected with each other and with God. Within the turbulence of family life, they trusted God to actively sustain and guide them into an uncertain future. We are invited to follow their example.


HANNAH AND MARY

The story of Hannah and her son Samuel in today’s reading from 1 Samuel was especially important for Luke’s Gospel. The passage describes the presentation of young Samuel to the priest Eli as part of the story of the faith of Hannah. Hannah had been in great suffering, as she had long desired to have a son, and saw this as central to her vocation and identity. Hannah’s deep honesty with God during her distress, together with her confident persistence in prayer, reveals her as a model of faith. Luke links Hannah to Mary through the Magnificat song in Luke 1, which mirrors Hannah’s joyous song in 1 Samuel 2. Luke links young Samuel to Jesus, through the presentation in the Temple in Luke 2.

Luke is suggesting that God is up to something big. Just as Samuel initiated a turning point in Israel’s history, Jesus is about to open a new chapter in human history. Their stories are rooted in the remarkable faith of their mothers, Hannah and Mary.


WEAVING THE STORY

Today’s passage from Luke is the only story about Jesus in the Gospels that occurs between Jesus’ infancy and his adult ministry. Luke uses the story to weave these elements together.


This story, like all the infancy passages, emphasizes that Jesus was born Son of God. Jesus’ first spoken words in Luke conclude with “I must be in my Father’s house.” God is his Father, and Jesus speaks as God’s Son.


Luke connects the future ministry of Jesus with the scene at the temple with the teachers. Jesus’ listeners are astounded at his wisdom. This anticipates similar scenes as an adult. Luke also subtly hints at Jesus’ resurrection, with details such as the question “why were you looking for me?” similar to “why do you seek the living one among the dead?” Luke invites us to see his Gospel as an integrated whole, weaving together Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection.


Today’s Readings: 1 Sm 1:20–22, 24–28 or Sir 3:2–6, 12–14; Ps 84:2–3, 5–6, 9–10 or Ps 128:1–2, 3, 4–5; 1 Jn 3:1–2, 21–24 or Col 3:12–21 [12–17]; Lk 2:41–52

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