Saturday, December 27, 2014

We Are Family

Not the same as the "Sister Sledge" song of the 80's, but a family bound by the Blood of Christ. After all in the Eucharist Catholic Christians "become what we receive" so there!

We have all heard the familiar marriage know the mutual vow of being faithful to each other in "good times and in bad."  I mention this because we see in marriage an image of the covenant between God and all of us, a covenant of mutual fidelity that binds us and makes us family, since we are all God’s children.  That in the best of times and the worst, we stay committed to each member of the family.  

As we do each Sunday after Christmas we honor the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.  Luke’s gospel is of the presentation of Jesus who Simeon witnessed as the longed- for Messiah.  Anna the prophetess witnesses the same and begins to evangelize,-that is share this good news.  Bound by their witness of Christ, they both become members of this Holy Family. We know that the Holy family did have struggles; they had to migrate to Egypt for safety, and being human had to have some tough times not written about in the scriptures.  They were a family like all of ours.

Pope Francis and the Synod members that met recently in Rome to examine struggles that families face were critical of systems that separate and divide families; mostly economic situations. And in the final document's summary, in the paragraph addressing the pastoral challenges, the report mentions that we must accept families in the concrete situations of their lives.  On a local level, as a parish we just need to be there for each other as we are members of a family, each with our own concrete and real situations. Situations as varied as breadwinners working far from home, single folks struggling to find a job that offers fulfillment and stability, and seniors who wish to work and not be forced out of the job force due to age alone.  Young families planning on their own futures and futures for their children.  These are just a few of the “concrete situations” facing families.  All are members of God’s family and through baptism and as Catholics, we all share a common spiritual blood if you will; that being the blood of Christ offered in the Eucharist.  We then become holy family members.  A true holy family never gives up on any member, tough love withstanding, but never abandonment. But those are usually the exceptions.  All to often we can allow peripheral reasons, petty at times, to damage our familial relationship.  We too often hold up our own interpretation of family ideals without seeing the realities others face.  But one ideal cannot be changed or reinterpreted.  That is Christ himself.  The unseen guest in every holy family who makes His dwelling with us.

Nothing should be “off-limits” to a family.  That means honest exchanges between members.  Face to face in charity.  I know how peoples’ hearts have been changed by the witness of immigrants here in Bozeman.  Where there were fears and angers, with honest exchanges between peoples, not politicians, new relationships have been formed and the local family is more blessed by her newer members.  Never perfect, but neither are any of us. But that is what a holy family is; a people migrating together to our eternal home in heaven.  Family life on earth should reflect the family life that is to come. By witness of the Holy Family we honor today, we too can create and strengthen the earthly holy family, whom we are all members.  Yes in good times and in bad, through our shared faith and shared Eucharist, we are made holy, and we are family.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Those eyes, those eyes.... Seeing into Advent.

They say when you look into a person’s eyes, you can see into their soul.  These eyes in particular lead into the very soul of Christ, for it was in her own womb that the son of God made his home.   These eyes also show forth two important characteristics of Mary, characteristics that we who look to her as the first disciple, can follow her Son more closely.  They are her motherhood, and her virginity.

Mary is Mother-lets not kid ourselves, there is no more important person than a mother. Not to put down fathers but the mother does extra duty.  She houses the child in her own body for almost a year, building a strong relationship with that child.  The laughter, friendships, challenges that she experiences are also experienced by the child living in her womb.  This is the beginning of what we know as “communion”…relationship with the other.  We owe Guadalupe the honor of being the bearer of Christian community which we are a part of.  Not only is she the dark virgin of the native Aztec people, but she is the mother of us all-in the two American continents.  We are bound to each other through her communion with her son.

Mary is Virgin- a quality all people can strive for.  While we know she was pregnant, as the image shows, but we also believe that she remained forever a virgin. She offers to us a virginity that is more than a physical condition but a spiritual state of moral purity.  Striving always for the good. And while we struggle with the great moral questions we face, her purity reminds us that we can obtain it in our thoughts, words, and actions.  For thoughts of seeing others as objects for gratification and or seeing others as somehow inferior or unworthy are immoral.   Seeing the other as sister, brother, fellow disciple keep us morally pure and undefiled, untouched by the snares of the devil and full of God’s life always being born in the places where we dwell.  Let us guard this purity of heart against those who would seek to divide us, and we know the devil loves division.

So may we honor her Son by imitating these two qualities as they are His own teachings.   And may we continue, through the Eucharist we will receive, through the food and fellowship that will follow, to commit to a real communion with each other regardless of language or nationality.  And may we treat each other as would Christ, with pure motives and a clean heart.  After all she is the mother of us all.  Viva La Virgin De Guadalupe!