Monday, December 28, 2015

Walk in the Light

God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say, “We have fellowship with him,” while we continue to walk in darkness, we lie and do not act in truth. But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another, and the Blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:5B-7

When the magi had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you.  Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.” Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. Matthew 2:13-14

Today the Church remembers the innocent children slain by Herod in his attempt to kill Jesus, the newborn king.  Let us pray for all innocent children who are victims of gun violence, war, abuse, and neglect throughout the world today.

Protection.  Watching over has been a constant theme of our liturgy and study since Advent began.  We watched over the dark days and long nights and weeks with candles burning until the Savior emerged to walk with us. Now teh Lord is entrusted to the care of others -- principally to Mary and Joseph.  They get a big assistance at the holy day care center from angels who announced the pending news.  Even after birth, the angels assisted in the protection of Jesus with today’s warning. 

In spite of his initial doubts about the first message of the angel, Joseph is clearly now walking in the light of truth.  A change has come over Joseph, not just fatherhood, but faith. This time, after the message from the angel comes to Joseph in a dream, he wakes up the very next day and prepares for the journey to Egypt – leaving, we assume, the next night. Even though they were travelling under cover of literal darkness, the Holy Family was walking in the light.

The notes in the NAB explain that “Egypt was a traditional place of refuge for those fleeing from danger in Palestine.  When Solomon tried to have Jeroboam killed, Jeroboam fled to Shishak, king of Egypt. He remained in Egypt until Solomon’s death (1 Kings 11:40).  When King Jehoiakim and all his officers and princes heard [Uriah’s] words, the king sought to have him killed. But Uriah heard of it and fled in fear to Egypt (Jeremiah 26:21).  However, the main reason why Jesus is taken to Egypt is that he may relive the Exodus experience of Israel.”[i]  The angel will appear to Joseph one more time to notify him that the coast is clear and they can return to Israel fulfilling the prophecy of the new Exodus.

Whose protection is in your hands?  Children certainly.  Now increasingly, families also have responsibility to care for aging parents, grandparents are raising grandchildren, spouses caring for an ill husband or wife, and foster parents are raising children who have no parents.

Our responsibility for care extends to the whole planet as explained by Pope Francis in his encyclical letter LAUDATO SI’ (“On Care for Our Common Home”).

The USCCB site reminds us that as we put away our Christmas gifts, think about giving away things that we do not use anymore and adopting a “simple living” mindset for the new year!  For inspiration, reflect on these words from Pope Francis:

True joy does not come from things or from possessing, no! It is born from the encounter, from the relationship with others, it is born from feeling accepted, understood and loved, and from accepting, from understanding and from loving; and this is not because of a passing fancy but because the other is a person. Joy is born from the gratuitousness of an encounter! It is hearing someone say, but not necessarily with words: “You are important to me”. This is beautiful.... And it is these very words that God makes us understand. In calling you God says to you: “You are important to me, I love you, I am counting on you”. — Pope Francis, Address at Meetings with Seminarians and Novices (7/6/13) 

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