Daily Reflection
December 29th, 1999
Maureen McCann Waldron
Collaborative Ministry Office
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1 John 2:3-11
Psalms 96:1-6
Luke 2:22-35

“The way we can be sure of our knowledge of Jesus is to keep his commandments.”
                                                                                                                       1 John 2:3

“When the day came to purify them according to the law of Moses, the couple brought Jesus up to Jerusalem … [as] it is written in the law of the Lord….”
                                                                                                                        Luke 2:22

It can get discouraging to have both readings begin with laws.  Rules. Regulations.  Our lives are full of them and our American sensibilities caution us that we have freedoms, that we don’t have to be guided by so many laws and commandments. 

Do I really have to spend so much of my life with rules?  All I want is to make my life a Yes to God and everything God is asking of me.  Sometimes the rules even seem to get in the way of that. 

Then I look at my life and the things that mean the most to me.  Certainly there are laws for protecting my children. But do I care for them because of those laws, or because I love my daughter and son so much?  And don’t I love my husband and honor my marriage not only because I took a vow to him but because I want to be faithful to our commitment to each other?

Maybe these readings are not as much about the laws of God or the laws of the Church as they are about being faithful to God, a fidelity that is lived out every day.  The first reading spells it out clearly.  We can really know Jesus if we live as he did, love as he did, forgive as he did. 

In today’s gospel we see Mary and Joseph following the laws, being faithful Jews, and taking their firstborn son to the temple.  They don’t go because they have to.  Perhaps they want to because following this law is just another way of being faithful to God and giving thanks for God’s faithfulness in their lives.  This is how they began their lives as parents who raised a son whose whole life was a Yes to God. 

Maybe we aren’t really saying Yes to Jesus every day if we are harboring deep resentments and angers against others or even against laws.  Those can be barriers to our finding God in the darkness and emptiness of the stable.  Somewhere in the dimly lit corner of our hearts, in that painful place we don’t want to go, we can turn to Jesus and ask for the grace to forgive someone.  We can ask for patience to turn a deep suffering into a piece of the Paschal mystery that is so much a part of the Christmas story.

In these quiet days after Christmas, I ask for the ability to see clearly how I can best serve God, how I can be faithful to God.  I ask for the grace to be less arrogant about what is right and wrong and more faithful to the simple obedience God asks of me.

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