Dear St. Luke’s Parishioners,
Memories of the celebration of the birth of Jesus are still fresh in our minds. For families with young children, the joy and delight of opening gifts from under the Christmas tree still bring smiles to our faces. Perhaps you have tied into your celebration, the telling of the Christmas Story from St. Luke’s Gospel and these words and images still echo in our minds.
This weekend, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. I have had the privilege of visiting several newborn babies of parishioners in the hospitals over the last days. What a joy to see their faces poking out from under their little stocking caps and being all bundled in “swaddling clothes.” They are always wrapped up very tight in blankets to keep them warm.
I think of all that lies ahead for these babies and their parents and other siblings. Family life is at hand. The joy of awesome new life fills their parents. Older sisters and brothers can’t wait to welcome their younger siblings home. Grand-parents want to get first in line to hold their new grandchildren. Newborn cries fill the house even into the night.
The Feast of the Holy Family puts our focus on the newborn Jesus with Joseph and Mary. They have had the trying experience of the birth of Jesus away from home in the stable in Bethlehem in poverty. Today’s gospel shows Joseph taking Mary and Jesus and fleeing to Egypt to escape the murderous intent of King Herod. Imagine Joseph and the expecting Mary traveling the 75 miles on foot to Bethlehem and then not long afterward, fleeing to Egypt some 200-300 miles away. As refugees, they would not know the language; they would not have a place to stay; they would not have work. Poverty would go right with them. At the death of King Herod, they return to Nazareth away from any who might still seek to harm the young Jesus. Can you imagine trying to establish any kind of “family life” under these circumstances?
Emmanuel, “God is With Us”, came and lived all the human experiences of life. Mary, Joseph and Jesus grew to experience holiness as a family right through the trials of life. The same Emmanuel, “God is With Us”, is present today with us as we strive to grow in holiness as a family.
When the real struggles, trials and disappointments of family life happen, know that Jesus, Mary and Joseph have been there in even more trying ways. Their patience, their trust in God, their confidence in God’s plan, enabled them to keep growing as a family. We can do so as well because Jesus is with us. May all our families be blessed as we celebrate Emmanuel, “God is With Us”, during these days of Christmas.
By now you know that I am home with my family in Panama for our Christmas gathering this weekend. Thanks to Fr. Jim Kiernan for celebrating Mass with the St. Luke the Evangelist Family.
Please note that our Holy Day of Obligation Masses for the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God will be on Tuesday evening, December 31, 4:30 pm and at 9:00 am on January 1 at St. Anne’s.
The Liturgical season of Christmas lasts until January 12 with the celebration of the Baptism of Jesus. We all have many days yet that we can continue to celebrate the birth of Jesus. We look forward to the celebration of the Epiphany on January 5. Perhaps have your “Three Kings” arrive at the stable then.
May all our families know the blessing of the Holy Family. May we all realize our call to grow to be “holy” with the unique experience of God’s gift of our family.
Fr. Larry Hoffmann