May we open our hearts to the wisdom of true obedience! May we find the peace and joy which come from trusting God in the way of Mary and Joseph! May we be filled with the joy of belonging to the Holy Family as members of the Body of Christ! May we be unafraid to offer ourselves as gift to Jesus during this Christmas season! And may we find joy and blessing in our humble worship, as one people around the manger with Mary and Joseph, angels and shepherds, and all manner of wise folk! Peace!
©Michele L. Catanese
Notes: Next post on January 14, 2019.
* See Deuteronomy 4:32-40 to read about God’s love for His people from the beginning; Deuteronomy 7:12-15 and following also.
** Remember to regard the gospel passages together, as a whole, to get a more complete description from the birth narratives: Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 2:1-7.
*** Interestingly, it would be Mary who would indicate later when the time had in fact come for Jesus to begin His ministry. (John 2)
Final Note: The other readings of the Feast of the Holy Family also provide examples of biblical obedience. The 1st reading is about Hannah. The passage is excised from a rich, almost humorous, story: a previously barren Hannah wisely obeys the instruction of the High Priest and is able to bring forth Samuel, a son destined for greatness. (I encourage reading the entire passage: 1 Samuel 1-19.) In the 2nd reading, St. Paul also extols the wisdom of obedience. He writes: “Let the peace of Christ control your hearts….Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly….” (Colossians 3:15, 16) He reminds us that obedience to the Law of Love means that we try to act as Jesus taught. It is not that Paul was unaware that our response would be flawed, but rather that we would try to re-focus our response on God rather than to focus upon ourselves. This obedience once again, is about love, not blind adherence to rules.
1. The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, by Fr. William Hart McNichols: I chose this image of the Holy Family for its simplicity so that it speaks for itself. If you are interested in purchasing a copy in one of many mediums, you can find this image at https://fineartamerica.com/featured/the-nativity-of-our-lord-jesus-christ-034-william-hart-mcnichols.html.
2. One of my photos, taken in New Zealand at Larnach Castle in Dunedin (South Island): I chose this because the leaves seem to be obedient to the laws of nature, stretching toward Heaven in a gesture of praise to God for the very laws which govern them.
3. A painting by Bl. Fra Angelico which depicts the Visitation: I chose this one because I love the presence of the other two women who are witnessing the obedient love and service of Mary to her elder cousin, Elizabeth. (I especially like the one peering around the doorway.)
4. An icon called St. Joseph and the Holy Child by Fr. William Hart McNichols: I liked that this particular icon shows Jesus as an older child, not an infant, and also that part of Joseph's face is obscured, but so too is the face of Jesus. It is as if Jesus is 'absorbing' some of the obscurity of Joseph and making it His for 30 years. (Remember, Jesus was totally hidden until he was 30 years of age.) You can find it at https://fineartamerica.com/featured/st-joseph-and-the-holy-child-239-william-hart-mcnichols.html.
5. The Child Jesus in the Temple by Duccio di Buoninsegna, (1255/60-1315). One can clearly see Mary and Joseph imploring Him to come home. He is obviously attentive to them, and so He obeyed.
6. I took this photo while hiking down Gornergrat, a mountain just outside Zermatt, Switzerland. Our guide pointed out this chamois, a creature that is a mix of deer and mountain goat. They have horrible eyesight, but they can hear and smell with incredible sensitivity. It is clear that it caught our scent and it can be seen at attention, listening for our movement. I got this quick photo, and therefore could not be picky about the weed in the middle of it since the chamois darted off almost immediately after the shot. As in the text, it stretched to its furthest to get the information it needed and responded immediately.
7. Stained glass of the Holy Family: What is especially attractive in this amazing artwork is how the magi, seen on the right of the piece, are depicted. They do not look at all regal, and in fact, they look rather ordinary, and therefore, more humble than we usually see them portrayed. In fact, they do not look very different from the shepherds on the left side, but given that they are offering gold, frankincense, and myrrh, they are indeed the magi seen as examples of obedient, humble love.
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