Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14; Psalm 128:1-2, 3, 4-5 (R/. cf. 1); Colossians 3:12-21 or 3:12-17; Colossians 3:15a, 16a; Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23
Today we are invited to focus on the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. One may think being holy is being free from problems, but God’ Son was born into a dangerous world. From the beginning, Jesus was seen as a threat. Herod was a royal thug intent on removing anyone who threatened him, but Joseph acted to protect the child from the king’s murderous rage. A reciprocal regard holds a family together.
Sirach focuses on the honor and respect that children owe their parents. Colossians urges parents not to discourage their children. Furthermore, husbands and wives are to honor one another. Calling wives “subordinate” is unfortunate vocabulary in many cultures today, given the frequency o spousal abuse, but urging husbands to “love their wives and avoid any bitterness toward them” helps restore a mutual regard.
All relationships are to be transformed in Christ to bring His presence into the word. This transformation happens when we are “swaddled” in compassion, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, and above all, love. It is through this transformation that the grace of the Incarnation becomes enfleshed in the family and every family becomes holy.
What do you think makes a family holy?
Amos 8:4-7; Psalm 113:1-2, 4-6, 7-8 (R/. cf. 1a, 7b); 1 Timothy 2:1-8; cf. 2 Corinthians 8:9; Luke 16:1-13 or 16:10-13
The bottom line is clear, “You cannot serve both God and mammon.” Mammon is an Aramaic word meaning property, money, or possessions. Fr. John Haughey, SJ, has written about “mammon sickness” in his book The Holy Use of Money, describing three of its symptoms: running after things, numbness in our relationships, and a divided consciousness in our relationship with God. Today’s readings invite us to take our spiritual temperature to see if we are suffering from this sickness.
Dishonest business practices are the target of Amos’s wrath. The prophet connects the pursuit of wealth with both the diminishment of genuine worship of God and with trampling on the rights of the needy and the poor. Such are the results of “mammon sickness,” when God’s love and concern for the poor do not take flesh through us.
Rather than condemning the shady practices of a steward, Jesus seems to admire them. But a closer reading shows that what he admires is the initiative and shrewdness taken by this son of darkness, using money to make friends. Children of the light should use money to make friends with the needy, thereby giving God glory.
How can mammon/money/possessions be sacramental, mediating God’s love?
Genesis 18:1-10a; Psalm 15:2-3, 3-4, 5 (R/. 1a); Colossians 1:24-28; cf. Luke 8:15; Luke 10:38-42
Do you ever look at maps? You quickly conclude there is no logical explanation for how countries or states are formed. It is all so arbitrary and fluid, truly “man-made.” Boundaries also tend to shift over time, sometimes due to changes in the earth, but more often, once again, to “man-made” situations like war or political agreements. Relational boundaries also tend to shift with time and circumstances, even between God and us. In the story of God visiting Abraham and Sarah, a boundary into deeper intimacy shifts when God promises Abraham that within a year Sarah will have a son. Another boundary is crossed when God speaks to Sarah for the first time. Unfortunately, we do not get to hear it today.
A Jewish home had physical boundaries, “male space” and “female space.” Mary was not in the kitchen where she “belonged.” More than that, she was sitting at the feet of the Jesus, the posture of a disciple, another crossing over into male territory. Jesus made it clear where, and what, Mary could be.
God is so into creation that it has not ended; new realities keep on coming. What boundaries in your life need shifting?