Monday, January 29, 2007

Holy Family in Egypt

After the three Kings left and the Presentation in the temple, Lk 2:39 reads “When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong. He was filled with wisdom and the grace of God was upon him. “
The Gospel of Matthew explains that because of Herod, Joseph had to take his little family to Egypt where they live until Herod died. So they may have returned to Nazereth in Galilee when Jesus was about 5 yrs old.
Jesus as a toddler in Egypt….So he learned to walk and talk there. His first steps and his first words happened somewhere in Egypt. They traveled south across Palestine to escape Herod’s threats. No cell phones or land lines then so His grandparents probably had no ideas where they were or why. Joseph and Mary began their married life together in Egypt, alone with Jesus.
Finally one day they learn that Herod is dead and they begin their long journey to Nazareth. No doubt Jesus’ grandparents were all thrilled to finally meet him!
What was that reunion like?

Friday, January 26, 2007

Image Prayer: Jesus’ infancy

Their story began with an immaculate conception to a virgin out of wedlock. The fiancée is instructed to marry her anyway. Political situations require that they leave their support system and travel for days on a donkey. When they finally arrived the holy family found no room to rent in Bethlehem. They shepherds, angels and wise men come to adore Jesus. They learn that Herod is trying to kill Jesus and escape to Egypt while the Holy Innocents were murdered. From anxiety to exultation to fear, their emotions ran. In Egypt they became a “normal” family raising a baby son. That’s an awful lot of stress for a newly married couple with a baby when the mom is only about 15!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Mary visits Elizabeth

The Annunciation to Mary was your date of conception, virginally. So God our Father had made the decision to have you come to earth the way every child does except for your virginal conception. God chose an average girl in an average town. So Mary, the young girl is pregnant with you and soon after she tells her parents and fiancée. You, Jesus, were still very tiny in utero at this point with your body still being formed.
Soon afterwards, Mary travels to visit her cousin who is also pregnant. (You traveled a lot while still in the womb!) She probably came by donkey with others. After several days journey she gets off the donkey and approaches Elizabeth’s house. Mary’s cousin was pregnant too. Her baby picked up on her excitement and your cousin John moved all around in his mother’s womb. Elizabeth says this to Mary who responds by praising God, their heavenly Father for all the miracles He has performed. John was born first, but Mary had returned home by then. God’s mystery was beginning to unfold but the children’s parents didn’t know how that would happen. John would be raised by Elizabeth and Zechariah. Zechariah told everyone that John was going to prepare the way for the Lord – and that he did!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Simeon, the man

Jesus was circumcised and then taken to the Temple by his parents for the purification. They met Simeon.
Simeon, Luke calls you righteous and devout; the Holy Spirit was with you. What were you like? You must have really been hungry for the coming of the Lord. You were so hungry and prayerful that God filled you. He had promised you’d see Jesus. . What a faithful, holy prayerful man you must have been. Hungry yet patient. You lived such a good obedient life that God promised you Jesus. You were one of God’s extra ordinary people, Simeon. You made God smile. You must have persevered in your prayer -or maybe you were just stubborn. Or were you just so simple, good and faithful that God offered you this gift? How excited you must have been when you sensed Jesus was coming.
It might have happened before – you thought he was coming but it wasn’t really him. This time the urging is stronger. You get excited and hopeful. Is this the One? Is this really Him? You went to the Temple, prayed and waited. How long did you wait? Did it feel like forever? Did you feel unworthy? Did you straighten up the Temple, fix your hair and robes and then finally calm down and wait?
As soon as Mary and Joseph brought the baby in, you knew! I bet they hardly got one sentence out. Did they look like you thought they’d look? Poorer than you’d imagined? Simpler? Younger? You reached for the baby Jesus. You reached and Mary handed Him to you. You must have been elated. You knew, really knew this was Jesus. I imagine you lifting Him up to God, His Father. Your heart must have been singing. You were finally holding Jesus, the Savior! Did it confuse you that He was just a normal baby? Or did this miracle just fall in line with other ways God worked in your life. Finally you hold the baby near to your heart. What a sacred moment. All your hunger fulfilled. All your longings met. All your fears calmed. What a picture that must have been. Simeon holding the baby Jesus, the Savior of the world. Jesus may have looked like a normal baby at that moment, but Simeon, how your eyes must have danced! Your body was elated. What a precious sacred sight. No words here in Scripture, only an intimate union of hearts.Then you pray, “Now Lord you can dismiss your servant in peace.”

Monday, January 15, 2007

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Run then Rest

“Let the little children come to Me for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Mth 19:14

If my 4 yr old niece had a problem she’d get upset and run to her mom or dad with it. I’ve seen it happen many times. “Mom, Alissa (her 1 yr old sister) took my doll and won’t give it back.” Or “Dad, can you fix the computer?” She hardly gives her problem a thought other than to run to a parent. Once that’s done, she rests calmly.
My niece Margie knows her mom will somehow manage to get her doll back and keep Alissa smiling at the same time. She also knows with complete confidence that her parents have the ability to fix whatever is wrong. She has no doubt that she just has to tell her dad about the computer and it’s as good as done. He may not fix it right away but he will get to it.
So after running to a parent, I’ve seen Margie just sit down and wait calmly for the results. In time her doll will be returned to her or the computer will be available again. What does she do while she’s waiting? Margie is usually very calm and confident. It’s as though she put that need aside. She may then go and draw a picture or get something to eat. She did all she had to do, i.e., tell her parents. She knows they love her and want her to be happy so she’s sure they’ll fix what’s wrong. And they do. In time. Margie’s work is done. She can feel relieved and return to a peaceful state because her parents will take care of her.
She didn’t ask for anything bad.
She hadn’t done anything wrong.
It was a just a fair request.
Her experience shows her that they’ve always helped her in the past and that they keep telling her how much they love her. She gets daily hugs and kisses, treats and smiles. So she keeps drawing until her request is fulfilled. She’s calm, happy and patient. Sure enough, at a point when she’d almost forgotten the urgency of her need, her doll is returned. The computer is fine. She smiles and may or may not remember to say thank you. Life is good.
“Let the little children come to Me for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
So the reverse means if you are not like little Margie the kingdom of heaven may not be your home. But Lord, that’s where I want to be – home with You! So, I must be as trusting as a little child.
When the bills are high – as long as I’m working as diligently as I can and my spending is just and fair – I can run to you for help and then forget about it.
When my family is arguing I can pray for Your peace and then rest in You.
When work is overwhelming I can turn my gaze to You and work an honest day’s labor calmly.
When illness strikes a loved one, I can run to You for answers and just wait in confidence. It will be done in Your time. “Do not hinder the little children from coming to Me”, You said. So, here I come running Father God. I have a long list! I am Your weakest follower and I find myself stressed out or tired. I must be doing this all wrong. I’m not resting in You or waiting with confidence.
Little Margie will distract herself while she waits for mom or dad to address her need.
“The Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” So I need to learn from her. I need to put aside my complex thinking process and analytical skills. They don’t belong here. My restlessness and anxiety aren’t congruent with child-like simplicity either. After I run to You Father God I should do what the 4 yr old does, rest in You. Run, then rest.
Drop the subject, distract myself with other things and let go. Once I tell my tale I should release my anxiety even if nothing seems to have changed right away. I know from my own life story that You do love me, God. Things have always eventually worked out, differently perhaps from my plan, but they have worked out. And if the worry comes back I look to You and let it go again. If I need to do a moment of releasing through imagery prayer or breathing or exercise then that’s what I should do in order to let God be God.
If the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these then that’s who I want to be because that’s where I want to be. With You, my Lord.

Monday, January 08, 2007

In spiritual training

Jesus seems to work on a "need to know" basis with me. I can't handle it all so He feeds me spiritual milk slowly until I handle more.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

A Technological Nativity

On Christmas Eve, while waiting for the children’s Mass to begin and during the choir’s caroling I took the 4 yr old and 1 yr old out of Church to walk around the property. The 4yr old girl had received a toy stuffed horse and was carrying it around with her. I asked the 4 yr old to pretend she was Mary and that her horse was a donkey. She insisted it was a horse and I encouraged her to just pretend it was the donkey. She agreed reluctantly. I hid around the corner with the younger child and tried to get “Mary” to put herself in the Blessed Mother’s position wanting her to recall the star that led the shepherds to Bethlehem. I called out, “But Mary, how will we find you?” After a moment of silence “Mary” said, “Pretend I sent you an email and told you there was going to be a star in the sky to follow.”


Later I took the one year old to the side altar to show her that the baby was now in the manger. Being so tiny her head barely reached high enough to see the hay strewn along the floor of the stable. She did reach to pet the sheep nearest to her saying, “ah ah, nice baby.” I tried to direct her sights towards the Infant but she had to stretch around the sheep to see Him. Her first response was to hide back by the sheep, reach out to see the Baby Jesus and say, “ Peek A Boo!”