Meditation is an ideal way to pray. Using God's word (Lectio Divina) allows me to hear, listen and reflect on what the Lord wants to say to me - to one of his disciples - just like He did two thousand years ago.
The best time to reflect is at the beginning of the day and for at least 15 to 30 minutes.
Prior to going to sleep, read the Mass readings for the next day and then, in the morning, reflect on the Meditation offered on this website.
I hope these daily meditations allow you to know, love and imitate the Lord in a more meaningful way.
God bless you!


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Lk 2:22-40 Other Than Perfect

Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
(Click here for readings)

When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.  The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.

Today's meditation is divided into two parts.  I won't tell you what they are because I don't want to spoil what I have to say.  But let's begin with some practical advice.

Some practical advice.  A few years back, I received a book for Christmas entitled 30 Lessons for Living.  The author of this book, Karl Pillemer, interviewed thousands of "wise" Americans.  And who are these wise Americans?  The elderly. 

When Pillemer asked them what they thought about family, they mentioned five lessons:  

(1)  It's all about time.  Take time to be with your family.  It's not about "quality" time, it's all about taking time.  Children are like clams:  hard on the outside and soft (sensitive) on the inside.  And just like clams, you never know when they will open up to you.  So make sure you're there when they're ready.

(2) It's normal to have favorites, but never show it.  Kids are very good at picking up hypocrisies and injustices.  Be careful.  It's easy to have a favorite child - especially the one that sucks up to you - but if you let it show, then you'll end up having a child that hates you and the favored sibling.  Isn't this what we felt towards our teacher and his/her "pet"?

(3) Don't hit your kids.   The wisest Americans advise to exclude physical punishment.  I don't mind a parent spanking a child.  I do mind a parent beating a child.  There is a difference.  It's the difference between hitting a child and hurting them.

(4) Avoid a rift at all cost.    Do whatever it takes to avoid a permanent rift with your child, even if it means compromising a little bit.  Why?  Because the human family is an image and likeness of the divine family, God:  Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  The unity and charity between family members is just as important as the union and indissolubility of marriage, which is an image and likeness of unity and dissolubility between Christ and His Bride, the Church. 

Finally, let's take to heart the encouraging words of St. Paul:  "Who will separate us from the love of Christ?  Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? ...But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us" (Rm 8:35,37).

(5) Take a lifelong view of relationships with children.  Spend time with your children.  Allow your grown children to enjoy their time with you!  Allow them to relax in your presence.  It's simple:  the more your children enjoy being with you, the more time they will want to spend with you.  I have visited many nursing homes.  None of them are happy places, not even the most expensive ones.  They are all sad places, not so much because of who is there but because of who is not there:  children, grandchildren and relatives.  Think long term.  

This is the first part of my meditation, the part least interesting to me, for the above recommendations are worthless and useless - and possibly harmful - if there is no change of heart; that is, a desire to love, which means a desire to be holy.

As I mentioned last year, the Roman Catholic Church celebrates the feast of the Holy Family, not the "Perfect Family."  Why?  In order to answer this question, we must meditate on the nativity scene.

This Christmas, I received many Christmas cards that showcased family members.  As I looked through them, I noticed how different the holy family looks compared to the "contemporary" American family.  Or are they so different? 

Looks can be deceiving.

What do you see when you look at the nativity scene?  The family in the stable is far from being the "perfect" family.  Think about it.  Joseph is not the father of Jesus.  He is His adopted father.  We could even say His "step-father."  Mary is married to Joseph, but their marriage is different from so many other marriages.  Now I have no doubt in my mind that Mary loves Joseph, and that Joseph loves Mary, but their love is more of a love between friends, not spouses.  Finally, this couple will only have one male child, not seven - the perfect family found in the Old Testament. 

If there is anyone in this family that is perfect, then it is the baby Jesus, who cries at night and cries when He is hungry.  He is the perfect - the typical - child.

Some spiritual advice.  So what's the secret to being a holy family?  If we were to ask Mary, I think she would say "Put God above all things." 

If we were to ask Joseph, I think he would say, "Things don't always go as planned.  But if we follow God's plan, then things will work out just right."  I think he might also add, "Focus your attention on others.  Stop worrying about what others think and think about what God thinks." 

If we were to ask the two of them, I think they would say, "Stop complaining about what you don't have and start appreciating everything you do have."  Nothing is going to separate this couple, not even persecution or poverty.

Finally, if we were to ask Jesus what he thinks (and if Jesus could speak), I think he would say, "Honor your mother and your father, regardless of how imperfect and weak they are" (cf. Sirach 3:2-6,12-14).

Here is the holy family. 

O Come, let us learn from them!

3 comments:

  1. Truly a beautiful meditation, Father. What I pray for each of my family members is that we individually and as a family fall in love with the person of Jesus Christ and his holy Church and that we subordinate our love for each other to our love for God. We are anything but perfect but hope with God's mercy and love, to grow in holiness together.

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  2. Mary is married to Joseph, but their marriage is different from so many other marriages. Now I have no doubt in my mind that Mary loves Joseph, and that Joseph loves Mary, but their love is more of a love between friends, not spouses.


    A while back I heard a priest say, ”I can live without sex, I cannot live without intimacy.” This is how I see the beautiful marriage of Mary and Joseph. This is how I see what most marriages need in this day and age! With this sex-craved society, we have lost what is most precious: real intimacy!

    Beautiful Meditation Father.

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