Sunday, December 28, 2014

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker
By Father Perry D. Leiker

From the very first chapter of the scriptures, when it comes to family, it is clear what God intends: “Be fruitful and multiply.”

Today’s feast focuses on the holy family: Joseph, Mary and Jesus. From the beginning of Genesis, we see God’s desire and plan for a regenerating of the species through a fruitful multiplication.

God tells Abram (who becomes Abraham in the Covenant with God): “Look up at the sky and count the stars, if you can. Just so shall your descendants be.”

Even in Abraham’s old age, God provides for the beginnings of a mighty nation with many descendants. Sterility is no obstacle for God.

But there is more in the feast today as we listen to the Gospel of Luke. The Jews had a very deep faith understanding of the God-gift that family was. Both in thanksgiving and in the deepest sense of dedication, after 40 days the child was to be presented to God. In this particular family story, prophecy and grace and the beginning of redemption surround this ordinary family event.

Devout Simeon declares: “My eyes have seen your salvation ... a light for revelation to the Gentiles and glory for your people Israel.”

And he continues: “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted.”

Even Mary’s future pain and sorrow is predicted.

Is this what we can expect from family, whether a small family like Jesus’, or the enormous human family promised to Abraham by God? Is it always to include suffering? Will there always be struggle? Is there no doubt that both falling and rising is in the picture? And so, what makes it holy?

“The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.”

The favor of God falls upon all of us; especially those anointed with God’s own Spirit in baptism. There is no question about God’s promise of fruitfulness – just count the over 6 billion presently inhabiting the earth.

Neither is there any question about the favor of God – available to any and all who open their heart to him.

Perhaps the call of this feast day is to re-dedicate our self, our life, our day, our future, to the God of Abraham, and our God, too!

Perhaps this is what makes each of us and any family holy.

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112, or email pleiker@stbernard-church.com.

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