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16150 St. Anthony Rd.
Emmitsburg, MD. 21727
Phone: 301-447-2367


A Lived in Home

Rev. Paul V. Redmond
Professor Emeritus
Mount St. Mary's University

(12/28/08) I've always been rather leery of homes that look as if they've stepped out of the Style Section of "The Washington Post." On the other hand, I feel comfortable in homes that have a lived-in look - and that have at least a few books visible to my wandering eye.

I like to image the family home of Jesus and his young parents, Mary and Joseph as having a lived-in look. Somehow I can put myself more easily into the picture. I wonder at times about that young family. Join me now, friends, in letting your blessed imagination soar. Did Mary and Joseph ever get on each other's nerves? Was Mary a good cook? And when his mother had little Jesus get water from the only well in town---did he ever get sick and tired of doing so? Perhaps in all innocence this child muttered to himself: "Jesus this, and Jesus that-when can I call it quits?"

I wonder if this little boy ever got in a fist fight to defend himself and end up with a bloody nose or a black eye? Did Mary have to scold him as she did later on when she and Joseph had finished their Passover pilgrimage to Jerusalem. They had lost their young son and finally found the "runaway" in the Temple. Mary asked, as a good Jewish mother would: "Why have you done this to us?" Did young Joseph say to her beforehand---"Mary, you handle it all. You're much better at this sort of thing than I am." It does us good to imagine, dear friends, that Jesus, Mary, and Joseph faced challenges in their family growth similar to those we face in our own families. Did they struggle to make one another happy? Was the happiness of one for the other the most important thing in their lives? Do we face and meet a similar struggle for the welfare and happiness of the other persons in our own family?

In our own families, you and I, hopefully have experienced loving and caring family members who nourished our growth to maturity. Whether families are the traditional model of mother, father, children, grandparents and grandchildren, or single-parent families, or even of families who are not genetically related to one another, the principles, the values, the ties that bind family members to one another must remain constant-as difficult as that may be.

The family is the nesting ground of our society in which those who live and love one another discover who they are and what they are capable of becoming. Due to our faith, you and I are first and foremost members of the family of God---our Father, and Jesus, our Brother. We are members of the Holy Family of Joseph, Mary and Jesus whom we remember today in a special way. We are privileged to look back at our spiritual ancestry in our Jewish and Christian scriptures -to Abraham, our father in faith-and his wife Sarah. Their love for one another and their faith in God resulted in descendants as countless as the sands of the seashore. We are of the spiritual stock of our Jewish ancestors. After all, "Roses are red; violets are bluish. If it weren't for Jesus, we would all be Jewish."

We rejoice that we are the spiritual progeny of the original disciples of Jesus and that we are descendants of the saints throughout the ages. Somehow we share a "family connection" with the great artists, scientists, musicians, authors, and geniuses of history. . . a family connection with the outstanding pioneers of social justice. . . of a Dorothy Day and a Martin Luther King, Jr. We are rooted in all who have gone before us. God has blessed us to stand on their shoulders of all who have influenced and still influenced our lives.

If you and I see more than they do, it is because they have raised us up to see -not with their eyes, but with our eyes. At Christmas time many of us regularly experience a tinge of wistful sadness for our beloved family members who have died We pray: The ones we knew and loved are no longer where they were. They are with us because they are with God. And God in his love for us is closer to us than we are to ourselves.

In God's staggering love for each of us they love us more now than ever before. Through Jesus God has told us: "I love you with an everlasting love." At some time in our lives we reply: "Yes, God, I love You too." Today's Feast of the Holy Family reminds us that Jesus lived his years of silence and obscurity for us and for everyone else. Our of love for us God became weak. He could not walk nor talk unless someone taught him.

Father Henri Nouwen, a fine spiritual writer gifted with words of simplicity, writes: "In the story of Jesus God needs human beings in order to grow. God is saying: "I want to be weak so you can love me. What better way to help you respond to my love than my becoming weak so you can care for me. God becomes a stumbling God who falls at the cross and who dies for us and is totally in need of love. God does this so that we can become closer. The God . . . who become vulnerable, dependent in the manger and dependent on the cross is asking: "Are you there for me?"

In the eyes of those in need may we see the Messiah.

Read other homilies by Father Paul