“When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.” (Lk 2: 39-40)
Our Lord had a place which He could call “home”: “they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.” He would be there for 30 years, practicing family life and being obedient to “the law of the Lord,” He would not only fulfill “all the prescriptions of the law” but also live the beauty of the normal, daily life of the family: staying together, being responsible for some duties, sharing love and life, helping each other and praying together, just like we do in our daily lives.
“A holy day has dawned upon us. Come, you nations, and adore the Lord. Today a great light has come upon the earth.” (Gospel Acclamation)
Today is the first day of my individual retreat. I will spend the next two weeks in a hermitage (run by Carmelite Fathers in Poland), alone in a small simple cabin in the forest: with no electricity, only with a fireplace and a small propane bottle for cooking, BUT with the chapel and the Blessed Sacrament. Large enough for the two of us: Our Lord and me. And the Angels, of course. 🙂
It’s the most important time in my life every year. It’s the time maent not to be separated from you, but to be closer to you–because of being closer to Him. A very blessed and a very difficult time, because the “desert” shows you the truth about yourself: about your weaknesses, your pride, your egoism and your sins. Fortunately, it also shows you the unconditional love of God–how much you are loved.
I will keep you in my prayer, but at the same time there will be no homilies for two weeks, as I will be outside communication technologies. The editors will publish one sentence from the daily readings on our Family Support Foundation blog, together with a photo which features the hermitage. Please keep His word alive in your heart, and keep me in your prayer. And see you in two weeks. 🙂
“When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, the parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord.” (Lk 2: 22-23)
When the world proclaims the end of Christmas and goes to the next event–New Year’s Day, we contemplate every day, every single fact of Our Lord’s life. “The parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord”: the Son of God was presented to His Father. We can imagine the look of love from the Father to His Son. God the Father has the same love for every one of us.
“God so loved the world that he gave his Only Begotten Son, so that all who believe in him may not parish, but may have eternal life.” (Entrance Antiphon)
“Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection.” (Col 3: 12-14)
The virtues listed above are important in every relationship, but absolutely necessary in family life: “heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience”… We have some idea of their importance and life changing role after the Love and Life Programs. When forgiveness and tenderness complement each other, love is “the bond of perfection.”
Today we celebrate the feast of The Holy Family, which is our model of the family as the domestic church, where everybody is concerned with the happiness of others and everybody is a total and sincere gift of self. We can invite the Holy Family into our families and our homes and ask them to help us to be like them.
“Let the peace of Christ control you hearts, let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life — for the life was made visible.” (1 Jn 1: 1-2)
“The life was made visible” in a very significant way—as a Child. This is very natural for life: when new life begins in his/her mother’s womb, that life immediately begins to show his/her presence. Life wants to be visible in every possible way: “what we have heard, what we have seen… what we looked upon and touched with our hands.” And the Good News about Life has to be spread; an Angel announced it to shepherds and a star to Three Kings. Now it is our turn to proclaim the Good News—to be witnesses to Life.
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and from his fullness we have received.” (Communion Antiphon)
“As they were stoning Stephen, he called out ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’” (Acts 7: 59)
Our Lord takes care of us in every circumstance, even if we are totally abandoned and persecuted by others. He came to take away all our fears, overcome all our enemies and lead us to invincible love. St. Stephen, from a human point of view, lost his life, but from a wider perspective — he won his life: the Lord Jesus received his spirit. Now he is with Him to protect us and to help us in our lives.
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD: the LORD is God and has given us light.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” (Lk 2: 10-12)
“Good news of great joy” is the best description of today’s feast—“a Savior has been born for you.” He will take all our sins, our despair and our fears, and will bring us joy, freedom and unconditional love. And He came as “an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger” to show that it will be done not by force and power but by love and the gift of Self.
“I proclaim to you good news of great joy: today a Savior is born for us, Christ the Lord.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way, to give his people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins.” (Lk 1: 76-77)
He is coming with the most beautiful gift—“the forgiveness of our sins.” All His love is focused on us, not because we are perfect or we deserve it, but because we are loved and we need it. Our weak nature and “eagle’s heart” are quite often in conflict and need forgiveness of our sins: sins of pride or laziness, sins of thinking of ourselves as indispensable or insignificant, sins of excessive work, excessive planning or being short-sighted, and many others. Only God’s grace can give us again the right balance of being totally dependent on Him and focused on Him and at the same moment totally devoted to our brothers and sisters in service.
“O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called. He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,” and all were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God.” (Lk 1: 62-64)
For nine months Zechariah was mute, and when his wife Elizabeth “gave birth to a son,” Zechariah’s first words were “blessing God”: “his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God.” The gift of speaking is for speaking blessings. This is the best way to use our tongues. When we bless God, we proclaim His presence among us and all His miracles for us. When we bless God, we protect each others’ dignity.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if anyone hears my voice and opens the door to me, I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me.” (Communion Antiphon)
“He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation.” (Lk 1:50)
We have many occasions to meet Our Lord’s mercy in everyday situations. He comes with His grace not only in the Sacraments (like Holy Mass or the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation) but also in daily situations: a child’s smile, a friend’s phone call or a spouse’s hug and “I’m sorry” after a misunderstanding. Sometimes our activity brings the touch of His mercy to our relatives or friends. His mercy is in every generation, and He looks for every occasion to show it.
“O King of all nations and keystone of the Church; come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!” (Gospel Acclamation)