December 28, 2014
Tom Shanahan, S.J.

Creighton's University Relations
click here for photo and information about the writer


The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
Lectionary: 17

Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14; or Genesis 15:1-6; 21:1-3
Psalm 128:1-2, 3, 4-5; or Psalm 105:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9
Colossians 3:12-21; or Colossians 3:12-17; or Hebrew 11:8, 11-12, 17-19
Luke 2:22-40; or Luke 2:22, 39-40

Celebrating Christmas

Daily Christmas Prayer

Creighton Students'
Sunday Reflections

Pope Francis' Homily on this Feast last year

Scripture scholars point to a pattern in the writings of St. Paul to the churches he founded.  The pattern can be expressed something like this: you ARE (something), for example you ARE the Body of Christ.  This “you are” statement is followed by a directive such as therefore, LIVE FAITHFULLY the reality that you are the Body of Christ (which you ARE).

In today’s reading from the feast of the Holy Family, Paul employs the pattern spoken of: he tells the Colossian people that they are THE CHOSEN ONES of God and that therefore they must live out the implications of their being chosen by God.  Clearly this pattern is meant not just for the Colossians, but we faithful today are the inheritors of Paul’s advice. 

A prayerful exercise might be for us to quietly reflect on each of the virtues St. Paul suggests in our reading today and to assess how we chosen ones relate to them.

Heartfelt Compassion
Bearing with one another
And over all of these is Love.

As we look at this list of virtues called for here we can better assess our own family life, modelled on the Holy Family.  The family is the first church, and as chosen by God what is it we learn and inculcate into our lives from our family?

Can I see the patterns in my life around these virtues enumerated here for the Colossians?  A glance at the virtues reveals that our modern societies to not foster them.  In fact the opposite is true.  Humility, gentleness and patience are not valued.  Support for these virtues does not come from an “it’s-all-about-ME” emphasis by a culture that has forgotten its relationship with the other.

These virtues are all about relationship with others.  Where best to learn about these virtues but in the context of the family?  Can I see these counter cultural virtues as the heart and soul of family life? Advent gives us the opportunity to do such an assessment and to learn more and more of what it means to be chosen by God and incorporated into Christ.

Notice that love surrounds the entire set of virtues.  There is joy in responding to ourselves and others by this set of virtues Paul puts before us today in the letter to the Colossians.  The Holy Family then is a model for our ways of encountering one another as we (chosen ones) move towards these virtues in our own lives.

Thus we can come to the realization of Paul’s pattern: We ARE the chosen ones; therefore let us seek to faithfully accomplish what that implies for our lives.  Chosen ones rejoice!  Seeking these virtues is itself the first step in receiving them as a gift of God.

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