The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph 2020: Bulletin Column and Cover Art

Dear Believers in the Christ,

In Luke 2: 22-40, we hear with our own ears the beautiful words of Simeon who spotted the child Jesus. He had waited in the Temple for many years for that moment. I imagine him with a grey beard and old dark clothing in the dark, dusty temple. Most people would have passed him up as another old, crazy man without a place to go. People must have known who he was and why he persistently waited in prayer. Then it happened, his eyes fell upon the small child with Mary and Joseph. His words were prophetic and wise. 

Simeon becomes a prophet. His presence and his words ushered in a new reality. The child was destined to change the world. The gospel writer, Luke, puts these words into the old man’s mouth: “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.” These words are still prayed during Night Prayer in the Church. Imagine, for centuries, we have proclaimed just before bed, the beauty of Simeon’s testimony, that he lived long enough to see the child, who was destined to redeem the world. 

Simeon also has words for Mary that would change her life. I am sure she would never have expected such an encounter bearing the small child in the temple. Simeon says these words, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted— and you yourself a sword will pierce— so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” These words spoken to Mary become Mary’s first of the Seven Sorrows. She will treasure the meaning of those words throughout her life and will live out such a prediction as she will learn to stand with Jesus during all the moments of his suffering. 

As we continue to celebrate Christmas, we too, are part of the Holy Family. Through the gift of our baptism, we stand with those who waited to see the Christ Child and those who would witness his ministry, and his passion, death, and resurrection. We are part of God’s plan as well. 

Now that the initial celebration of Christmas is past, at least the wrappings are off the gifts and the leftovers are in the refrigerator, we turn to this feast that celebrates our connection to something more than our earthly families. I am sure this Christmas has initiated new plans and various kinds of celebrations than in the past, due to the pandemic. The one thing the pandemic does not do is to rip apart our understanding that we still belong in God. We are still part of the family in which we celebrate today. The Holy Family is not just about Jesus and his parents, but about the connection that Christ has with his people. Here, the water of baptism is thicker than the blood of family. I rely on that to be true. 

The Holy Family becomes another link as to why we serve people who most need us. We honor all of life, including the unborn, and those who need to be raised, educated and clothed. We honor our adults in nursing homes, and those in long-term facilities suffering from horrific disabilities and disease. There are no distinctions as to who is in the Family of God and who is not. Even our enemies must be cared for by the Christian. The Holy Family is an extended celebration of the Incarnation, Christmas, that is, God-with-us. 

I hope that Zoom and FaceTime can carry the faces into your lives of those you love across the globe during these Christmas days. We ache to see the faces of those we love, just as Simeon finally laid his eyes on Jesus’s tiny eyes and grin. I want desperately for people to realize they belong in God. There is nothing that keeps any of us apart. Belonging is a fundamental notion of being human. And so many people feel at one point or another in life, that they do not belong, either in their families or in the Church. 

Let’s make sure as the calendar turns the page to another year, that we take seriously Simeon and Anna in the gospel of Luke, that they waited to see Jesus even in their old age. They knew they belonged in God’s plan. Anna waited in the temple for years. She too, becomes a messenger of the reality of Jesus in the world. Perhaps we can work on making sure all people are supported, fed, educated, housed and listened to. Perhaps, our faith this year will challenge us to gaze upon the stranger and see the face of Jesus. I am counting on it. 

Happy New Year. 

God give you peace.

Fr. Ron Raab, CSC, Pastor  

Christmas Day 2020: Scriptures, Homily

Read scriptures for Mass during the Day

Listen to today’s homily

My dear followers of Jesus,

Jesus touched the earth. Mary’s womb opened and she birthed love in the darkness. The infant was mystery and miracle.  He was the promised Light. He brought hope to human flesh. He became love incarnate. His voice echoed heaven. His eyes revealed the mystery of the Father. His purpose was motivated by the Holy Spirit. His life would teach us everything about life and about death. In his swaddling clothes we saw the cloth from the future of the empty tomb. However, this is not only the past. Jesus is still revealing light in us. Miracles still bloom. The Word is still Flesh.

We all know that pain, in order for it to heal, needs to be touched. So, Jesus became a healer for us. He touched the separations of peoples. Jesus touched the world. He touched humanity’s profound pain. He touched our sin in his passion. His resurrection claimed new life for us all. In Jesus all life is still wonder and tenderness. This day, Jesus touches us. He heals. He reveals heaven.

We know we need to be touched in order to thrive. As humans, we need the assurance that we are not alone. In this pandemic, being touched by another human has been rare. A lack of touch seems so unimaginable. Yet, my dear believers, Jesus has touched the earth this day in you and in me.

Please, allow the love of God to touch your heart, your soul. This is Christmas Day. This is the moment in which we reach out from the barrenness of our hearts, from the turmoil on our streets, from the exhaustion of our health-care workers, from the despair of our restaurant owners, to the outpouring of love that is tucked in the corner of a cave, in the presence of child. His mystery flows in us from the wonder-place of heaven. A new earth is ours in faith.

Finding Christmas calls us to touch the pain of others. This is the Eucharist in the world. Justice thrives in our actions to name, to touch, to face the realities of life. In Jesus Christ, a new heaven and a new earth is born. The Word is among us.

God give you peace.