Fr. Daniel Gifford
QUEEN OF FAMILIES
Merry Christmas! This weekend, we finally conclude the Christmas Season, with the Celebration of the Baptism of the Lord. Now, some of you may be sad and thinking “Do I have to stop listening to Christmas music?” Or you may be stressed and thinking “Now I have to find time to take down decorations?!” Never fear. While the season officially ends this weekend, on the current liturgical calendar, there is still one more “bonus Christmas” celebration yet to come: The Presentation of the Lord (A.K.A. Candlemas) on February 2, which used to be the end of the Christmas Season in an older liturgical calendar. Also, remember, our Marian theme for our bulletin reflections, focusing on titles in the Litany of Loreto, continues through the Presentation. On that note, you might be confused by the choices on the cover. The window features the Finding in the Temple (front cover), which was the Sunday Gospel (Lk 2:41-52) two weeks ago. Also, that Sunday was the Feast of the Holy Family; but this weekend’s title is “Queen of Families.” Did we just mix up covers and print the Holy Family cover two weeks late? Nope. Believe it or not, there is a method to my madness. I suppose, if I’m being completely honest, I do like to keep you guessing :). As mentioned when we began the Marian theme, most images directly feature Our Lady, but others simply relate to her. Well, Mary is not in this window, but she is obviously very much a part of the story of the Finding in the Temple. So, if Jesus is back in the Temple, but Mary and Joseph are not there yet, where does that leave them? They must be still searching for Him. While we often think of Mary, the Immaculate Conception, as being unable to relate to the sense of distance from God that we sometimes experience, this is a moment when Mary feels deeply the pain of longing for Christ and not finding Him. She endured this distance and longing for three days, as a subtle hint of the hope of the Resurrection, which is certainly our hope as well. With family Christmas celebrations still a recent memory, I do hope that you all had happy, peaceful and joyful time with your families. Still, the holidays can have a way of accentuating whatever difficulties exist within our families - we all have them, although each one is unique. It can be a comfort to reflect upon this moment when even the Holy Family longed to once again be made whole. We can turn to Mary, the Queen of Families, for she understands and she intercedes for us. But, why reflect upon the Finding in the Temple on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord? Both mysteries point us to God, the Father. In the Temple, Jesus pointed to the Father, to remind His earthly parents that He must be about His Father’s business. At the Jordan River, the Father spoke and identified Jesus as His Beloved Son. This reminds us of our identity as adopted sons and daughters of the Father in the Son. At our baptism, the Holy Spirit made us members of the Son. Thus, we became members of the Holy Family, as well as sharers in the life and love of the Holy Trinity. Even our families are a part of a larger family. Or rather, each Christian family is a part of several larger families: the parish, the Diocese, the Universal Church, the Holy Family, and all leading up into the life and love of the Holy Trinity. May the Joy of the Christmas Season continue to bless your families with peace and joy, throughout the whole year!
FAMILY DISCIPLESHIP RESUMING: Another reason it is fitting to revisit the family theme from the Holy Family is that our Family Discipleship programs are resuming, after our Christmas break. We have our Second Sunday Stay and Play this weekend after the 10:30 AM Children’s Mass (this Sunday). Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, First Reconciliation and Communion Prep, and Junior High Youth Ministry have all met in the past week. High School Youth Ministry is about to resume and a number of our Household groups for our parents are starting up again as well, or soon will be. Also…
FIRST RECONCILIATION: Our First Reconciliation and Communion Prep students celebrated their First Reconciliation this Saturday morning (1/12). How awesome that they prepared for the Baptism of the Lord, by being sacramentally restored to the grace of their own baptism! Congratulations to all of the students and their families. Please keep them all in your prayers, that their life of grace may continue to deepen day by day.
In Christ through Mary,
St. Louis, pray for us!
Blessed Mary, Queen Mother of the King of Kings, pray for us!