Tag Archives: Family

Gospel Reflection for December 30, 2018, Holy Family

27 Dec

Sunday Readings: 1 Samuel 1.20-22, 24-28; 1 John 3.1-2, 21-24, Luke 2.41-52

Jesus went down with Mary and Joseph and came to Nazareth and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart. Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor. – Luke 2.51-52

Only Luke tells a story about Jesus during the years between his infancy and public ministry. Sunday’s gospel takes place during his family’s yearly pilgrimage to Jerusalem to join with friends and family in the Passover celebration. This detail tells us Jesus’ parents practice Jewish religious traditions. They make the four-day walk from Nazareth to Jerusalem.

The gospel suggests the journey is fun, with friends and family members walking together, visiting with different ones as they walk along all day, perhaps singing the psalms of ascent. Participating in the feast, stories, and traditions of his people is one way Jesus receives his religious education. He grows in wisdom in his family.

What importance has participating in parish worship and parish life as a child had on your adult faith? Who has most influenced how you lives your adult Christian life?


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Found Family

1 Jul

Last weekend I attended a 10th wedding anniversary celebration of two friends. I had attended the actual wedding a decade ago, and looked forward to the evening. Even with  my excitement, the gathering far exceeded my expectations.

The couple had reserved a beautiful room in the back of a lovely restaurant. Appetizers, drinks, dinner and a toasting cocktail were provided. At a certain moment of the dinner, the couple asked us the group, sitting at two long tables, to introduce ourselves so we could see how our lives intertwined. Later, the man made a toast to the woman and the woman made a toast to us, the friends gathered. Both toasts brought me to tears.

It was clear that the couple had put real thought into creating an intentional celebration. The guest list was built with care, and it was an honor to be in the room. Both people living far away from home, they had built a found family, and we were it.

I believe in found family, and talk about it often. For one reason or another, parents and siblings can’t always provide in the way that we need them to. They can’t be our everything. We can, however, build a found family over the years. We can reach out to mother and father figures and invest in found siblings. We can find ourselves among family regardless of genetic make up.

For my father and mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in. –Psalm 27:10

We are, indeed, beloved children of God. We’re in. We’re loved. At its best, our spiritual community can be an extension of God’s love, a found family. They can love us despite our faults. They can weep with and laugh with us. They can welcome us in, and pray for us when we have no words.

My friends created a thin space, a place where found family came together to eat great food and share special conversation. It was a reminder of what church can be when strengthened by the love of God the Parent.

 

Gospel Reflection for March 6, 2016, 4th Sunday of Lent

1 Mar
Photo via Flickr user Lawrence OP

Photo via Flickr user Lawrence OP

Sunday Readings: Joshua 5.9,10-12; 2 Corinthians 5.17-21; Luke 15.1-3,11-32

Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons.  The younger said to the father, ‘Father, give me the share of your property that will fall to me.’  So the father divided up the property.  After a few days the younger son, having gathered together all of his things, went away to a far off country.

(Luke 15.11)

Most of us know Jesus’  parable of the prodigal son.  Indeed the focus commonly falls on the prodigal, the problem child.  Jesus focuses first on the father; it’s a parable about a man with two sons and his relationships with both.  It’s also a parable about the relationship of the brothers to each other.  For me, the parable brings up my younger sister, severely hard of hearing, to whom our teacher mother devoted constant phonics lessons.  My sister liked to hold her ears and claim I was shouting or worse whistling to hurt her ears.  I got a reprimand.  Is Jesus about the younger son who absorbs more attention that the other son?  Or is the parable about me, the dutiful oldest child, dependable and responsible, who ran errands the fastest?  Or is the parable about the older brother who resents his father welcoming back his brother and feels under appreciated.  Who is lost?  Or is the parable about the father who knows each son and reaches out to each?  Then there is the feminist question.  Where is the mother?  Is her absence the reason a favorite younger son grows apart and a dutiful older son fails to please his father no matter how hard he tries?  The story gives us no clue, but these questions introduce familiar family dynamics.

Who are you like in the parable–the wild lost son?  The dutiful son?  The challenged father?  The absent mother?

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Gospel Reflection for November 29, 2015, 1st Sunday of Advent

24 Nov

Sunday Readings: Jeremiah 33.14-16; 1 Thessalonians 3.12-4.2; Luke 21.25-28, 34-36

“Stay watchful.”

(Luke 21.36)

Advent begins with a gospel that imagines Jesus coming in glory. The gospel fairly froths with frightening images. Scary gospels can hardly worry us more than our everyday headlines and breaking news. Refugees swarm north across border after border, seeking a safe future for their families. Climate change threatens our planet.

Beginning next Sunday in Paris the United Nations sponsors the 21st meeting among nations to negotiate a limit on global warming to 2 degrees celsius. We are inextricable bound together on our home planet. We are all neighbors profoundly called to cooperate and survive together. What we know we want for our own families is what refugees and immigrants are seeking – safety, education, a future. Jesus insists that the loving actions he teaches and lives will get us through not only every day but any day.

Who do you see as a source of hope we humans can help build a world in which all can thrive?

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Gospel Reflection for October 4, 2015, 27th Sunday Ordinary Time

29 Sep
Photo via Flickr user RebeccaVC1

Photo via Flickr user RebeccaVC1

Sunday Readings: Genesis 2.18-24; Hebrews 2.9-11; Mark 10.2-12

“Tell us, does the Law allow a husband to divorce his wife?”

(Mark 10.2)

Marriage is the topic in Sunday’s gospel.  In Rome this Sunday the Synod on the Family begins.  Second marriages is one topic on the agenda.  Many people in the pews pray the Spirit will breathe the embers of Vatican II into flame again.

Church documents praise the family but not in the everyday language we might use.  The Church describes the family as —

  1. a domestic church.
  2. the living cell of society and church.
  3. a school for social virtues.
  4. the first school of faith.
  5. a cradle of life.
  6. a value and goal most people seek.
  7. an icon of the Trinity.

How does your family fit the Church’s descriptions?  Who do you consider family members?

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Fierce Love

12 Sep
via flickr user Neal

via flickr user Neal

I have a child growing in my womb who will take on the last name of my husband, which is Ruth. When we first met, he joking tried to woo me by telling me that all of his names were Biblical: Daniel Paul Ruth. I love the book of Ruth and have been looking at it with fresh eyes lately.

But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. When they had lived there about ten years,  both Mahlon and Chilion also died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband.

Naomi told her daughters-in-law to go back home. Orpah left. But Ruth said,

“Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you! Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die—  there will I be buried…  So Naomi returned together with Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, who came back with her from the country of Moab. They came to Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest.

The book of Ruth started circulating around the time of Ezra when there was some ethnic cleansing going on. The story served as a warning of sorts, a gentle corrective and reminder that limiting family and focusing on purity does not seem to end well for humanity. Fast forward to the genealogy of Jesus, where the four women who are listed are all considered outsiders. This speaks volumes about God’s idea of family.

Ruth shows Naomi her fierce love. It’s a stubborn love, a love that won’t be let off the hook easily. I try to channel Ruth’s fierce love in my own family, a love that won’t let go. A few years ago, my mom got diagnosed with breast cancer. She asked if I could drop her off at the hospital for her surgery. As I pulled into the parking ramp, I realized her request was literal.

“Just drop me off here,” she said.

“No, mom. Are you kidding? I’m coming to sit with you. You are not going through this alone.”

She pushed, not wanting to inconvenience me. Like Naomi. From my vantage, her permission to leave was ridiculous. I wasn’t going anywhere. In the end, she thanked me for sitting with her, but I didn’t need her gratitude. That’s just what family does. When my sister had her third child, when my brother had a bout of depression, when another brother gets married in a few months — when times of great joy or great sorrow arise, we have an opportunity to rush in and offer a fierce love like Ruth’s. We can offer a gift of presence and accompaniment. That fierce love may be highlighted in big moments, but it can be nurtured and grown in the ordinary nature of day to day family life.

Who is the most fierce lover in your family? Most of us have an extended relation who is the source of some of the best stories that are shared every time the family comes together, the stories that tell how of your family got to be where it is today. We tell those stories because they help us understand who we are and where we are going. So it is with God’s family, and the biblical story.

 

 

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