Project Description

Holy Family A Sirach 3:2–7, 12–14 / Colossians 3:12–17 / Matthew 2:13–15, 19–23

 

My favorite Christmas story

of the year involves:

 

a little 5 year old

African American boy—

 

a Caucasian set of foster parents—

 

and National Adoption Day in

Kent County, Michigan.

 

National Adoption Day is held every year

to raise awareness of the more

than 125,000 children

waiting to be adopted from

foster care in the United States.

 

It’s usually held

in court rooms all around the country

sometime in November.

 

But Kent County, Michigan officials

decided to move their National Adoption Day

closer to Christmas.

 

It’s fits so well with the season—

doesn’t it.

 

Giving and receiving gifts.

What better gift than a forever home for a child—

who like all children—

who like all adults—

just want to be loved.

 

What better gift for loving parents

than a beautiful little boy to share their home—

to share their lives with.

 

Well, on this December’s Adoption Day in Kent County—

37 adoptions became final.

 

Judge Patricia Gardner—

17th Circuit Judge—

was presiding.

The judge—

well aware of the Christmas theme of the day—

wore a sparkly red scarf and

flashing blue and green and gold

Christmas ornaments

draped around her neck.

 

Judge Gardner banged her gavel—

and read declarations of adoption to

weepy but joyous parents—

and ecstatic kids

 

The Judge dabbed her own eyes with tissue

as 37 children were welcomed into their new families.

 

One of the adoptees was

was little Michael Clark, Jr.

 

Michael came to court

in sharp looking khakis and

a two-tone blue vest over a

checkered shirt with

a purplish bow tie.

 

Michael was one eager and excited 5 year-old.

 

He was so eager to sit next to his new dad, David Eaton.

 

Michael had been fostered for about a year

by father-to-be David Eaton and his wife.

 

This particular adoption made the news

because Michael wanted to share his joy of

being adopted with his whole kindergarten class.

 

So he asked his future mom and dad if

he could invite his classmates and

his beloved teacher Mrs. McKee.

 

Now how could Mrs. McKee and his

kindergarten classmates refuse

coming to such a celebration—

no doubt the most joyous Christmas

celebration they will ever attend.

 

Michael’s classmates waved pink and red hearts

Glued onto sticks to show their support.

 

When the Judge banged the gavel

finalizing Michael’s case—

Michael’s classmates cheered and

waved their hearts even more vigorously.

 

Can you imagine the smile on Michael’s face?

 

Mrs. McKee told the TV reporter

that the lesson she wanted to

teach her class was this:

 

“We rise when we support others.”

 

“We rise when we support others.”

 

Did everyone have a wonderful Christmas?

 

Me too.

 

I had a great time with all the liturgies—

And the kids. . . .

 

With my mom and dad. . . .

 

and with some of my closest friends.

 

I certainly hope you had one too.

 

Today, we celebrate the

great Feast of the Holy Family.

 

And as we think about the Holy Family of

Jesus and Mary and Joseph—

 

and what all they went through—

 

we realize that the Holy Family wasn’t

all that different than our families. . . .

 

They certainly had their share of

sorrows and difficulties.

 

It was hard for them from the very beginning.

 

First, there were the suspicious circumstances

surrounding Mary’s pregnancy.

 

Pregnant before marriage—

in those days?!?!?!

 

The pride Joseph had to swallow—

Mary’s shame and vulnerability.

 

It couldn’t have been easy.

 

And then there were the

harsh realities of the birth itself.

 

Born not in their own home—

Born away from their immediate family—

No room for them. . . .

 

Born among the animals . . . .

 

Born in a feeding trough.

 

And then there was what we

heard in today’s Gospel.

 

Their Son’s life in danger—

So they have to flee to Egypt to save Jesus’ life.

 

And who can forget Simeon’s

prophetic words spoken to Mary at

Jesus’ Presentation in the Temple.

 

“Behold, this child is destined for the fall

and rise of many in Israel,

and to be a sign that will be contradicted

and you yourself a sword will pierce. . . .

 

Will it ever—

Will it ever.

 

As we ponder the difficulties of the Holy Family—

it gives us the opportunity to see what

they went through with the eyes of faith.

 

It gives us the opportunity to grasp

the true meaning of Christmas.

 

The true meaning of Christmas is about

A God who is always—

Always reaching down

with love and grace.

 

The true meaning of Christmas is about

a God who takes on the injustices and hurts

and difficulties ultimately defeats them.

 

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross—

Edith Stein—

that brilliant philosopher—

made the astute observation that the

wood of the crib and

the wood of the cross

were essentially one and the same.

 

The true meaning of Christmas is about us

receiving that gift of God’s love and grace.

 

And rejoicing in that grace!!!!

 

It’s the same grace that preserved

Mary from original sin.

 

It’s the same grace that would wipe

away the sins of Joseph.

 

It’s the same grace that got the

Holy Family through the

difficulties of the circumstances

of Mary’s pregnancy. . . .

 

and harshness of the Birth. . . .

 

And the fear and the trials of the flight to Egypt.

 

You see the Holy Family is not

the iconic and model family

because of some idyllic familial bliss

that they experienced.

 

That’s not true at all.

 

They are the iconic and model family

because they kept Jesus at the center of

their lives and accepted—

and accepted—

the grace offered through the works their Son—

 

grace that brought great, great joys for sure—

 

but also the grace that gave them

what they needed to persevere in their challenges—

 

and the grace to give them some comfort

in their hardships.

 

That’s the real meaning of Christmas.

 

A God who is always—

Always reaching down with love and grace.

 

And us accepting that gift.

 

Our families are interesting aren’t they.

 

They bring us incredible joy—

And they present great challenges.

 

I think we can all relate to that.

 

That pretty much summed up my Christmas.

 

The great joy of Christmas and family and friends—

And the great challenge of looking after my aging parents.

 

And Jesus—

Immanuel—

“God with us”—

is there with me—

with us through it all.

 

Receive the grace.

 

And it’s that same Jesus—

Immanuel—

“God with us”—

who was with little 5 year old Michael

as he persevered through challenges and hardships of foster care . . . .

 

and as He celebrated his new family and his new forever home.

What incredible Christmas stories. . . .

 

The story of Jesus and Mary and Joseph

 

My Christmas story . . .

 

And your Christmas story.

 

And the story of Michael and

his new dad and mom.

 

You can see the pictures on the internet.

 

Pictures of Michael and his new parents. . . .

 

Pictures of the judge dressed in her Christmas outfit. . . .

 

And pictures of Mrs. McKee and all of

Michael’s classmates waving their

red and pink hearts in the air.

 

It will bring both a smile—

and a tear to your eyes.

 

Receive—

Receive Jesus—

And receive the grace—

 

that’s the true meaning of Christmas.

 

Holy Spirit 12/28-29/2019