Taste and See: Being Family

FInding

On the feast of the Holy Family the first reading came from the book of Ecclesiasticus. We revisit it today.

It speaks of the duty of children towards their parents, and the responsibilities of parents toward their children.

The quality of relationship between those related by blood is of particular importance in our communities, and not always helped by the circumstances of modern life.

These days after Christmas are often somewhat tense for families – as well as enjoyable!. We do not often spend so much time together as we do in this holiday period.

Returning to this reading offers us the opportunity for a certain examination of conscience about how we live in our families, both at this time and during the rest of the year.

The Lord honours the father in his children,
and upholds the rights of a mother over her sons.
Whoever respects his father is atoning for his sins,
he who honours his mother is like someone amassing a fortune.
Whoever respects his father will be happy with children of his own,
he shall be heard on the day when he prays.
Long life comes to him who honours his father,
he who sets his mother at ease is showing obedience to the Lord.
My son, support your father in his old age,
do not grieve him during his life.
Even if his mind should fail, show him sympathy,
do not despise him in your health and strength;
for kindness to a father shall not be forgotten
but will serve as reparation for your sins.

Ecclesiasticus 3:3-7,14-17

The image featured in today’s blog is not of the Holy Family alone, but of the mystery of the Child Jesus discovered teaching in the Temple.

It reminds that there is more to family than ‘blood family’ only. It also reminds of some of the challenges of family life as people grow up and circumstances change.

  • What space do you allow in your family for each other to grow and mature?
  • How do you honour and celebrate new achievements?
  • How do you support one another during times of challenge and struggle

O God,
you cradle us at the beginning of life
and embrace us at our journey’s end,
for you love us as your own.

Bind our families together
and in all circumstances deepen our faith,
that, like the Holy Family of Nazareth,
we grow in wisdom,
obedient to your word.

We ask this through Jesus Christ,
your eternal Word made flesh,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
in the splendour of eternal light,
God for ever and ever. Amen

Image is of the mystery of the Discovery of Jesus in the Temple from the Rosary Way, Aylesford Priory. (c) 2012, Allen Morris.

 

Taste and See: A new creation

NativityThe mystery of Christmas is a mystery of God in the flesh, but also a  mystery of our salvation, of theosis, of our call to be re-made as divine humans. God’s free gift, this is what we are called to, invited to learn to live.

You are God’s chosen race, his saints; he loves you, and you should be clothed in sincere compassion, in kindness and humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with one another; forgive each other as soon as a quarrel begins. The Lord has forgiven you; now you must do the same. Over all these clothes, to keep them together and complete them, put on love. And may the peace of Christ reign in your hearts, because it is for this that you were called together as parts of one body. Always be thankful.

Let the message of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you. Teach each other, and advise each other, in all wisdom. With gratitude in your hearts sing psalms and hymns and inspired songs to God; and never say or do anything except in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Wives, give way to your husbands, as you should in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and treat them with gentleness. Children, be obedient to your parents always, because that is what will please the Lord. Parents, never drive your children to resentment or you will make them feel frustrated.

Colossians 3:12-21

The ways of the kingdom, the ways of the community of the family of God, are different to those we are commonly encouraged to. They are ways of mutuality and encouragement, rather than selfishness and aggressive competition. They are ways that nurture and are for the good of all. They are ways that imitate the manner of Jesus.

As we rapidly approach the New Year and maybe consider New Year resolutions, what is the ONE thing you can do that would be for your good and the good of the community around you? Ask the Lord for his help and support that this one thing may be achieved by you and God together in the New Year.

Photograph of the ceramic plaque depicting the Nativity in the Rosary Way, Aylesford Priory. (c) 2012, Allen Morris

Taste and See: The treasure of difference

Presentation

The Gospel for the first Sunday of Christmas, and Feast of the Holy Family, has a notably cross-generational cast. A new-born child, a young mother, a (by tradition) late middle-aged  father, and a notably old woman, and a man self- confessedly anticipating his death.

In their encounter they find fulfilment of past promises and anticipate the fulfilment of their hopes for the future (and the cost at which these will come).

When the day came for them to be purified as laid down by the Law of Moses, the parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, – observing what stands written in the Law of the Lord: Every first-born male must be consecrated to the Lord – and also to offer in sacrifice, in accordance with what is said in the Law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.

Now in Jerusalem there was a man named Simeon. He was an upright and devout man; he looked forward to Israel’s comforting and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had set eyes on the Christ of the Lord. Prompted by the Spirit he came to the Temple and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the Law required, he took him into his arms and blessed God; and he said:

‘Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace,
just as you promised;
because my eyes have seen the salvation
which you have prepared for all the nations to see,
a light to enlighten the pagans
and the glory of your people Israel.’

As the child’s father and mother stood there wondering at the things that were being said about him, Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘You see this child: he is destined for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is rejected – and a sword will pierce your own soul too – so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare.’

There was a prophetess also, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well on in years. Her days of girlhood over, she had been married for seven years before becoming a widow. She was now eighty-four years old and never left the Temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayer. She came by just at that moment and began to praise God; and she spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.

When they had done everything the Law of the Lord required, they went back to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. Meanwhile the child grew to maturity, and he was filled with wisdom; and God’s favour was with him.

Luke 2:22-40

Such cross- generational gatherings are probably rarer than once they were. The commercialising of leisure and the pressures that lead to the fragmentation of families and communities work against the easy mutual encounter of old and young, employed and unemployed or retired.

Churches are maybe in a privileged position of being focuses for such meetings and the sharing of wisdom and experience for the benefit of the health of communities.

The present invitation by the Bishops for spiritual discernment on family life will surely be assisted by opportunities for individuals to have their personal experiences and reflections contextualised by hearing them contextualised by those of others.

  • How often do you have the opportunity of reflecting on key aspects of your life with some notably different to you in terms of age and experience?
  • How many of your regular acquaintances are like you? How many unlike you?
  • Where do you get your understanding of how life is for those who are unlike you?

Photograph of carving In Perspex of the Presentation in the Temple, a detail of the Rosary Triptych by Arthur Fleischmann. (c) 2014, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Fulfiller of hopes and dreams…

Presentation

The Gospel for today, the first Sunday of Christmas, and Feast of the Holy Family, takes us from the crib of Bethlehem to the Temple at Jerusalem, and those who gather with the Holy Family are not now shepherds from the hills, but senior citizens of the city of Jerusalem.

When the day came for them to be purified as laid down by the Law of Moses, the parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, – observing what stands written in the Law of the Lord: Every first-born male must be consecrated to the Lord – and also to offer in sacrifice, in accordance with what is said in the Law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.

Now in Jerusalem there was a man named Simeon. He was an upright and devout man; he looked forward to Israel’s comforting and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had set eyes on the Christ of the Lord. Prompted by the Spirit he came to the Temple and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the Law required, he took him into his arms and blessed God; and he said:

‘Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace,
just as you promised;
because my eyes have seen the salvation
which you have prepared for all the nations to see,
a light to enlighten the pagans
and the glory of your people Israel.’

As the child’s father and mother stood there wondering at the things that were being said about him, Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘You see this child: he is destined for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is rejected – and a sword will pierce your own soul too – so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare.’

There was a prophetess also, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well on in years. Her days of girlhood over, she had been married for seven years before becoming a widow. She was now eighty-four years old and never left the Temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayer. She came by just at that moment and began to praise God; and she spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.

When they had done everything the Law of the Lord required, they went back to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. Meanwhile the child grew to maturity, and he was filled with wisdom; and God’s favour was with him.

Luke 2:22-40

Again the readings of the Masses of Christmas time draw us out from the mystery of the Incarnation in itself to its meaning for us.

In Simeon and Anna we see long and faithfully held hopes coming to fulfilment.

Maybe we can find ourselves in them too.

  • What hopes might we have that will find their fulfilment in Jesus the Christ?
  • With whom might we share the good news of Jesus Christ?

Photograph of carving of the Presentation in the Temple, Hill of the Apparitions, Medjugorge. (c) 2014, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Of thankfulness, love and care

murillo-heavenly-earthly-trinities-NG13-fm

The Sunday after Christmas Day is kept as the feast of the Holy Family. The celebration of the birth of Jesus, of God taking flesh is not sufficient to itself but includes humankind indeed is intended to extend to all humankind.

You are God’s chosen race, his saints; he loves you, and you should be clothed in sincere compassion, in kindness and humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with one another; forgive each other as soon as a quarrel begins. The Lord has forgiven you; now you must do the same. Over all these clothes, to keep them together and complete them, put on love. And may the peace of Christ reign in your hearts, because it is for this that you were called together as parts of one body. Always be thankful.
Let the message of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you. Teach each other, and advise each other, in all wisdom. With gratitude in your hearts sing psalms and hymns and inspired songs to God; and never say or do anything except in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Wives, give way to your husbands, as you should in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and treat them with gentleness. Children, be obedient to your parents always, because that is what will please the Lord. Parents, never drive your children to resentment or you will make them feel frustrated.

Colossians 3:12-21

The Holy Family formed on earth, the first community of love to form around Jesus here, is an echo of that profound communion of love in heaven that is the Holy Trinity.

  • What are the communities of love of which you know yourself to be a privileged part of?
  • To whom can you extend the call of love today?

The painting of the earthly and heavenly trinities is by Murillo and in London’s National Gallery. For more information click here.

Speak Lord: Of family life

Holy Family Lisieux

The first psalm suggested for Sunday’s feast of the Holy Family (one for use any year another an alternative for Year B) celebrates the blessings of God for those who seek to live faithfully.

O blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways!

O blessed are those who fear the Lord
and walk in his ways!
By the labour of your hands you shall eat.
You will be happy and prosper.

Your wife like a fruitful vine
in the heart of your house;
your children like shoots of the olive,
around your table.

Indeed thus shall be blessed
the man who fears the Lord.
May the Lord bless you from Zion
all the days of your life!

O blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways!

Psalm 127:1-5

Following on from October’s Synod, the Church continues its reflections on family life and how best to support it and to learn from people’s experiences of family life. This weekend there is a pastoral letter on family life in which the Cardinal will invite every one to take their full part in the process of reflection, learning and teaching.

The text of the letter will be posted on this blog come Sunday.

In the meantime pray for families, especially over this Christmas time when many families face great stress!

Photograph of family tomb in cemetery of Lisieux with stained glass window of the Holy Family. (c) 2014, Allen Morris

Happy Christmas

stjohnswoodblog

Aix 2014aThe feast of the undiminished Sun was celebrated at the Winter solstice.

Now the nights are getting shorter, days long, and the Church celebrates the birth on earth of the ever loving Son, who opens the way to all to salvation and the glory of God.

Happy Christmas to all who follow the Tweets and the Blogs – actually, Happy Christmas to everyone!

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