St. Patricks parish is in Kowloon, Hong Kong. There are four weekend Masses including a childrens Mass at 10:45, Sunday. This is the parish where I was formerly pastor. [email protected]. Cf. also Social Concerns Education: www.acpp.org -- Fr. Gene Thalman M.M.]

 

THE PEOPLE GARDEN

December 29, 2003 Feast of Holy Family (C) Luke 2:41-52 (7:30 A.M.: Mostly seniors.)

 

Next Saturday, we will be celebrating the wedding of the daughter of one of my old Hong Kong friends. What do you think Antheas parents will be thinking about on her wedding day?

 

I suspect that these parents feel a sense of surprise. It must seem to them like yesterday that Anthea had been a newborn baby. As a baby Anthea didnt know anything other than to coo and soil nappies. Yet gradually in the course of the past twenty-some years Anthea matured from an incompetent baby into an adult woman.

 

And I suspect that the parents of Anthea are just a little sad to say good-by to that little girl-- that Anthea once was. And enter into a new type of adult and loving relationship with their daughter.

Those of you who are parents with grown children are able to appreciate todays scripture passage much better than I can.

 

GODS WORD: Jesus, for his part progressed steadily in wisdom and grace before God and men. Luke 2: 52. [NAB]

 

Each year Mary, Joseph and Jesus, went to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast of the Passover: the feast of liberation from slavery and oppression. But this year is different. Jesus is twelve.

 

In Jesus day and continuing in our present day, it is the Jewish custom to celebrate Bar Mitzvah. When a male child reaches his twelfth year, he is officially considered an adult.

 

Now we can understand todays scandalous gospel passage. A misunderstanding in the Holy Family!

After the religious celebrations, the women and children would set out for the return trip a few hours before the men. The women wanted to talk so that the men couldnt hear. The men folk not burdened with babies and little kids, could make better time and would easily overtake the womens group by nightfall.

 

Mary set out with the other ladies. She assumed that Jesus would be following in the mens group. Later Joseph departed Jerusalem with the men. The men folk liked to talk to other men folk so that the women couldnt hear. Joseph still thought of Jesus as a kid and had gone on ahead with the women and children.

 

When the two groups arrived at the first stop for the night, Mary saw Joseph: Say, Joseph, where is Jesus? Well Joseph answered: I thought he was with you? And Mary answered: I thought he was with you! They searched among the pilgrims. No little twelve-year-old boy. Frantically, they rushed back to Jerusalem. Only parents can guess the horrible thoughts that must have been going through their minds: an accident, kidnapped, appendicitis.

 

After three days of searching, Mary and Joseph decided to go to the temple to ask Gods help. And there was Jesus talking with the scholars in the temple! And Jesus said: Hi, mom! Hi, dad! And Mary said: We have been going crazy looking for you for three days and all you can say is: Hi, mom. And Jesus said: I am an adult now. I can take care of myself. Stop treating me like a child. I must be about Gods my fathers business. I had some important work to do here.

 

It must have been a quiet trip back to Nazareth. Jesus must have realized that he should have been more considerate and have informed his parents. This incident must be consoling to both Hong Kong parents and their teenage children.

 

Mary, the parent, realized that she herself still had a lot of adjusting to do now that Jesus had become more than her sweet little boy. Her relationship to her son, Jesus, was changing. Mary did a lot of thinking about that incident in which Jesus was missing for three days. And todays passage ends with: His mother meanwhile kept all these things in memory. She knew that she had to do a lot of thinking about what had just occurred.

 

On the other hand, it is consoling to young people to know that Jesus as a boy of twelve didnt have the maturity, sensitivity and couth of a thirty-year old. He still had a lot of growing up to do. He had to proceed into full adulthood step by step much as any other twelve year old. And there would be mistakes. He, too, had to learn by trial and error to enter into a new and deeper relationship with his parents.

 

Jesus, for his part progressed steadily in wisdom and age and grace before God and men. [NAB]

 

LESSON I like to think of the family as a garden. Theyre all types of gardens. Some are vegetable gardens. Others are flower gardens. Each gardener chooses the type of plants that she wishes to grow. If she is a good gardener she will be sure to give the plants sufficient water, ruthlessly pull out the weeds, prune as required, protect the precious plants from excessive sun and rain.

 

The family too is a garden: a people garden. It is the place where not only children grow to maturity and beauty. It is also the garden in which the parents and grandparents continue to grow to greater maturity and wisdom. Above all, the family is the place in which the relationship among the family members continually changes and hopefully matures. Like Mary in todays gospel,

 

His mother meanwhile kept all these things in memory.

 

This morning like Mary we think about how each person continues to grow in our family garden and our responsibility as gardeners too one another.

 

FINALE We will close with a quote from the great letter of John Paul II entitled On The Family I hope every member of a family will read two or three lines each day before meals. The encyclical also has a special section for Those without a family [Cf.: #85] If you cant read, so much the better! Threaten one of your avaricious grandchildren with disinheritance if he doesnt read a paragraph for grandma each evening from this inspiring encyclical. That way both of you will profit from the reading.

 

Family prayer has for its very own object family life itself [Its] Joys and sorrows, hopes and disappointments, births and birthday celebrations, wedding anniversaries of the parents, departures, separation and homecomings, important and far-reaching decisions, the death of those who are dear, etc.all of these mark Gods loving intervention in the family history. They should be seen as suitable moments for thanksgiving, for petition, for trusting abandonment of the family into the hands of their common Father in heaven. Pope John Paul II, On the Family, (Washington, D.C., United States Catholic Conference, 1981, #59, p. 55.

 

 

HOMILETIC NOTES AND STUFF

25 December 2003 Feast of Holy Family (C) Luke 2:41-52

 

ONE WORD: Garden

 

TWO WORDS: The people garden

 

THEME: The family is the people garden in which we constantly grow to become the most beautiful person we can be.

 

TEXT: Jesus, for his part progressed steadily in wisdom and grace before God and men. Luke 2: 52. [New American Bible=NAB as well as all biblical quotes used in this homily.]]

 

RESPONSE: Read with your family the Pope Pauls Apostolic Exhortation On the Family.

 

CHURCHS POINT OF VIEW

Family prayer has for its very own object family life itself, which in all its varying circumstances is seen as a call from God and lived as a filial response to his call. Joys and sorrows, hopes and disappointments, births and birthday celebrations, wedding anniversaries of the parents, departures, separation and homecomings, important and far-reaching decisions, the death of those who are dear, etc.all of these mark Gods loving intervention in the family history. They should be seen as suitable moments for thanksgiving, for petition, for trusting abandonment of the family into the hands of their common Father in heaven. The dignity and responsibility of the Christian family as the domestic church can be achieved only with Gods unceasing aid, which will surely be granted if it is humble and trustingly petitioned in prayer. Pope John Paul II, On the Family, (Washington, D.C., United States Catholic Conference, 1981, #59, p. 55.

 

REFERENCES:

 

A Hebrew boy becomes a man at twelve and is inducted into the covenant with other males in a ceremony now known as a Bar Mitzvah, which means son of the commandment. Sammuel Oyin Abogunrin, in The International Bible Commentary, ed. by William R. Farmer (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1998), p.

 

Chewing, Digesting and DOING Gods Word

December 29, 2003 Feast of Holy Family (C) Luke 2:41-52

 

NAME_________ Grade_____________

 

1. What Jewish religious ceremony is celebrated when a lad reaches the age of twelve?

B_________ M___________

 

2. ____T/F At the age of twelve Jesus had reached full maturity.

 

3. What do you think of the behavior of Mary when Jesus was lost?

___________________________________________________

4. What do you think of the behavior of Jesus when he stayed behind in Jerusalem? _____________________________________________

 

5. (Optional) Tell about a time when you realized that you had reached a new

level of maturity. What religious significance did this insight have for you?