Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Upon Him

Do not love the world or the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, sensual lust, enticement for the eyes, and a pretentious life, is not from the Father but is from the world. Yet the world and its enticement are passing away. But whoever does the will of God remains forever.  1 John 2:15-17

When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him. Luke 2:40

O sweet Child of Bethlehem, grant that we may share with all our hearts
in this profound mystery of Christmas. Put into the hearts of men and women this peace for which they sometimes seek so desperately and which you alone can give to them. Help them to know one another better and to live as brothers and sisters, children of the same Father. Reveal to them also your beauty, holiness and purity. Awaken in their hearts love and gratitude for your infinite goodness. Join them all together in your love. And give us your heavenly peace. Amen. Pope John XXIII

After Jesus was born, there were several Hebrew rituals to fulfil.  The old law was still upon him.  First, Jesus was circumcised.  Second, Jesus had to be formally named (even though he was named at the Annunciation).  Finally, Mary returned to the temple forty days after the birth of her son for her ritual purification.  When all this was done to fulfill the Old Law, Mary and Joseph presented Jesus in the temple where the encounters with Simeon and Anna took place whose Advent season came to a close when they encountered the baby and his parents. 

Michael Card, in his book Luke: The Gospel of Astonishment notes that of the nine times that the word “law” appears in this book, five instances are here in Chapter Two.  These old laws will start to pass away after Jesus grows into adulthood and starts his public ministry from the same place we see him now – in the temple. However, that bridge has not yet been crossed. 

No one would argue that the years in Nazareth were formative years.  However, we know little about what happens after Mary and Joseph return home with the unrecorded blessing of Anna upon them and the Spirit upon their son.  Anna never left the temple.  But once Jesus reads from the Torah, his ministry goes beyond this protected zone but always filled with the Spirit upon him.

According to a story in the National Catholic Reporter today, during his weekly address,[i] Pope Francis called on Christians to take time during the continuing Christmas season to contemplate the mystery of the child Jesus, saying his infancy shows us the importance of being humble and letting go of our pretense of control in life.  The pontiff said that while the Gospels do not tell us much about Jesus’ youth, we can learn much about his childhood if we look at the life of the children around us.

“We discover, before all, that children want our attention,” said Francis. “Why do they want to be at the center?” he asked. “Because they are proud? No! Because they need to feel protected.”

Francis suggested that when people go home they take some time to contemplate the nativity scene in their house and to kiss the representation of the baby Jesus.  The pontiff suggested people could pray: “Jesus, I want to be humble like you, humble like God.”


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