Jesus is the hope of Israel and of all nations. Those who trust in him and welcome him rise. They fall, on the other hand, those who distrust and reject him.
Joseph and Mary are devout Jews. That is why they come with the child Jesus to the temple to fulfill the law of Moses. This tells us that they hope in the word of God, in his law.
At the temple, the Holy Family meets Simeon and Anna. Their eyes are perhaps dim. But upon him and her is the Holy Spirit. So, seers through the Spirit, they recognize and receive the child Jesus as Savior and Liberator. In that way they give us an example, so that we may welcome him also.
Simeon and Anna are models of hope. Year after year, for many years, they await the consolation of Israel and the liberation of Jerusalem. Surely, they go through hardships. But they overcome them. That is because, amidst affliction, they find hope and consolation in the promise of God. Even affliction turns out good for them, since, because of it, they learn the commandments.
Like Jesus, Mary and Joseph, then, Simeon and Anna fix their gaze on God and they listen and keep his word. They truly belong to the family of God. They, too, are the father, mother, brother and sister of the one who fulfills the law and the prophets. As honorable son and daughter of God, they are born of him, not of the flesh or of man.
What is decisive is that the word of Christ dwells in us richly and fills us with hope.
It is the spirit, yes, that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. And the Word of God is spirit and life.
This Word is sharper and more penetrating than any two-edged sword. And it discerns what the heart harbors, and so reveals the thoughts of many hearts. To welcome Jesus, then, is to let his words cut, prune, cleanse us.
The Word of God teaches us not to conform to the world nor to stray from the path of justice, mercy and faithfulness. Jesus wants us to heed his word so that we may discover the will of God and do it. In that way, we will have the food that gives life and consolation. Unless we welcome Jesus, then, we will lose all hope; we will fall, rather than rise. And we will go from this world, but not in peace but in disappointment.
Lord Jesus, just like St. Vincent de Paul, we hope in you. You never deceive or disappoint. Feed us from the table of your Word and Sacrament that we may rise.
31 December 2017
Holy Family (B)
Sir 3, 2-6. 12-14; Col 3, 12-21; Lk 2, 22-40