Sunday, December 30, 2012

Looking ahead

By Father Perry D. Leiker

"Quality of life" is a phrase that connotes a way of living as opposed to simply living. Today's readings talk about our dedication to God, a husband's dedication to his wife, a wife's dedication to her husband, a child's dedication to their parents, and each person's dedication to the whole community.

This quality consists in living "as God's chosen ones" with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience — bearing with one another and forgiving one another. This goes way beyond just living to living a very high quality of life.

But then, the Gospel shows a fission or break in this quality life: "Our son is lost"! What parents wouldn't — in an instant — feel terror and horror at the thought that they might never see their son again? There is no doubt that this horrific intrusion into the lives of Mary and Joseph suddenly interrupted their quality of life. But part of what makes this family a holy family is the way in which they responded. Immediately Joseph and Mary communicated with one another and prioritized their response by going together to seek out their son. When they found him, they gently chided him: "Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety."

The questions and answers were direct, honest, heart-felt and meaningful. But underneath each question and answer was respect, obedience, a sense of following a deeper call and urging of the Spirit, a careful retaining of these matters and memories in the heart, and a willingness to grow in wisdom.

This experience of the "lost son" and the resulting encounter presents a family who spoke and listened deeply to one another. Isn't this evidence of wholeness, holiness, and a healthy quality of life? Isn't this what all families should strive to live?

Father Perry D. Leiker is St. Bernard parish administrator. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112.

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