Holy Family - C

 Introduction by the Celebrant
(Liturgical Prayers of the day are included at the end)

A. In The House Of The Father

It may come as a real surprise to us to hear Jesus ask Mary and Joseph: "Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I had to be where my Father is?" Even Joseph and Mary had still to learn and to grow in their faith. Like the Holy Family, our families and each of us have also to grow in the faith. Perhaps it is through painful trials like the one of Mary and Joseph that our faith may become mature. We too are asked: Did you not know...?

B. Busy With The Father's Affairs
It is perhaps hard for us to imagine that Jesus, God's own Son, was really human, that he grew up not only physically but matured as a person and discovered little by little who he was. Of course, the whole Holy Family sought to do the will of God but we see Jesus affirm today that he has become aware that he is especially close to the Father and that God's loving will is all that matters. Isn't that all that matters for us, too, and should also we not grow closer to God? Let Jesus here in this Eucharist help us to become mature in God's love. 
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Jesus teaching in temple
Michel de VerteuilGeneral comments
Here is a highly symbolic story. We can read it from Jesus’ point of view or from that of his parents.
We can divide the story into two parts – verses 41 to 50, and verses 51 and 52 – and meditate on each separately.  Taken together, however, and understood as complementing each other, they give us a balanced picture of the role of authority in human life.

Prayer Reflection
Lord, we pray today for all those involved in the work of education
– parents, teachers, youth leaders, church ministers.
Young people come to stay with us and live under our authority for a time,
Increasing in wisdom, in stature and in favour with you and with men and women.
But they are not ours.
You are their father and they must be busy about your affairs.
Some have unusual vocations – in the Church perhaps, or in the arts, or in politics.
At times we will feel we have lost them
and we will be overcome with worry as we spend days looking for them.
Then, quite unexpectedly, we find them, at ease in their temple,
asking and answering questions,
quite surprised that we should be looking for them,
while we remain perplexed at what it all means.
Lord, bringing up children is a lofty calling;
Help us, like Mary and Joseph, to be faithful to it.
It may be that the salvation of the world lies with the maladjusted.” …Martin Luther King
Lord, there are times in life when we must step out on our own,
knowing that dear ones will be very worried, looking for us,
wanting to bring us back to Nazareth where we can be subject to them.
Give us the grace to commit ourselves, like Jesus,
to what we know to be our Father’s business.
“The Church must be concerned not just with herself and her relationship of union with God, but with human beings as they really are today.”…Pope Paul VI concluding the Second Vatican Council, Dec. 1965
Lord, as a Church we tend to remain within our concerns,
safe in Nazareth where we know the rules of the game,
who is subject to whom,
and we can feel sure we are growing in wisdom, in stature,
and in favour with God and with the influential people in society.
Top10IssuesWe pray that your Church may take the risk of being lost for days at a time,
even though its leaders are overcome with worry,
so that Jesus can be among the learned people of our time,
listening to them and asking them questions,
and modern generations, like previous ones, can be astounded
by the wisdom of his message and of the replies he brings to the problems of our time.
“Only one ship is seeking us, a black-sailed unfamiliar, towing at her back a huge and birdless silence. In her wake no waters breed or break.”West Indian poem
Lord, when we are young we have lofty goals for ourselves.
We are in Jerusalem, at the centre of things,
questioning the wisdom of our day
and astounding all by the intelligence of our replies.
Then another time comes when we find ourselves stagnant,
not going anywhere or achieving anything,
subject to the conventions and prejudices of society.
Teach us, Lord, that this too is a necessary stage
when, like Jesus in Nazareth, we can increase in wisdom,
in stature and in favour with you.
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 Thomas O’LoughlinIntroduction to the Celebration

Jesus the coreWe gather here each Sunday and call each other sisters and brothers, we exchange the sign of peace as if we are all one family, and we offer thanks and prayers to God the Father as our Father. We can do this because we are a family of faith, adopted as children of God through our brother Jesus the Christ. So today we reflect that Jesus has made us family through his becoming a member of a human family: the holy family of Nazareth.
Homily Notes
1. One of the differences between being a follower of the Christ and being a follower of a philosophy or a religious guru is that we are devoted to a person, not to a set of ideas. We are interested in Jesus because he is the truth, not simply because he is the messenger. Jesus hugsFor Christians the messenger is the mes­sage; and the messenger is Jesus. We believe we are brought into the Father’s kingdom by the Son, not because we adhere to anything that might be said to be Jesus’s religious wisdom. Indeed, when one counts up the verses in the gospels that could be said to be Jesus’s teaching, and compare it with the number devoted to his life and the events of his life, it be­comes abundantly clear that the kerygma is about the person of Jesus, of which what he taught is just a part. God’s ulti­mate revelation is a person, and not either a set of instruc­tions or a body of philosophy. I am always surprised at the reaction of non-Christians (and indeed of fundamentalist Christians who think of God’s revelation as ‘the bible’) when I ask them to bear in mind that Jesus is the only founder of a major religion who left no writings – and indeed that the only reference we have to his writing anything was with his finger in sand and we do not know what he wrote! The reac­tion is usually one of complete shock: how can you found a great world religion and not write a book of wisdom. The nearest we come is a collection of sayings written down by his followers of which we have only an indirect record and over which we have been arguing as to the form and mean­ing ever since.
2. If it is the person that is the message, then at no point is this more obviously the case than when Jesus was an infant, long before he could be a wise, kind rabbi able to lead a band of disciples. Such devotion to the infant Saviour has been a fea­ture of Christianity down the centuries. It must have been al­ready present at the time Matthew preached his gospel (last decades of the first century) for he has the magi offer gifts to the infant and fall down and worship the infant. We see it even more plainly in the second century with the Protoevangelium ofJames, and it continues right up to the early twentieth century with devotions such as to the Infant of Prague or in religious names such as St Therese of the Child Jesus. It has fallen below the horizon in recent decades for a variety of reasons, yet it is in devotion to the infant we see some of the basic themes of our christology. Today is one day in the liturgical year when this theme of devotion to the child Jesus can be explored while being in harmony with the over­all theme of day.
3. We worship Jesus because in his humanity – humanity with all the vulnerability of a child – we see our saviour. The in­fant’s coming among us is the good news of God being close to his people. Jesus is Emmanuel. We as his disciples, with our strength and wisdom and riches, must be prepared to lay itat his feet.
nativity
4. We can romantically idealise childhood or we can see child­hood as really only the privation of adulthood. Most societies tend towards the latter view; contemporary western society tends toward the romanticisation of childhood. Devotion to the child Jesus is neither one nor other of these attitudes, but
the recognition in prayer that God came among us in every aspect of our humanity. Jesus is our gateway to the Father, not some set of abstractions or practices that we claim to de­rive from him.
5. It is easy to visit the crib if we do so to show it off to the child­ren: the children wonder at the magical scene, the parents enjoy their children’s wonder. It is much harder for us as adults to recapture the wonder of the crib as a visible expres­sion of the wonder of the incarnation:
‘In the wonder of the incarnation, your eternal Word has brought to the eyes of faith a new and radiant vision of your glory. In him we see our God made visible And so are caught up in the love of the God we cannot see.’
6. It is easy to bring the children ‘to see the crib’; it is much harder for us to pray there – for the crib to cease to be a sim­ple model and for it to become an icon to focus our worship. Yet unless we can find the means to pray at the crib – a phys­ical reality functioning sacramentally – and there worship the child Jesus, we cannot discover true humility, nor under­stand the adult Jesus when he said: ‘Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the king­dom of God like a child shall not enter it’ (Mk 10:14-5/ Lk 18­16-17).
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Sean Goan
The story of Jesus being lost in the Temple is, like the story of his birth, all about his identity. At the age of twelve as a Jewish boy Jesus would have celebrated his bar mitzvah. Jesus, teenager
This meant he was allowed to read the scriptures in the synagogue and was recog­nised as taking his place among the community of adult men. As such it was right that he should go Jerusalem for Passover, but what unfolded there was an indication that his life would be given over to doing the will of his Father. For Mary this is another stage in her relationship with her son and another invitation to ponder how God is at work in her life.

Reflection
In a changing world, where the very notion of the family is under so much pressure, it is appropriate during the Christmas season to celebrate this feast. Some may ask, however, what can the image of Holy Family of Nazareth say to the modern world and to parents struggling in this climate of change? The women in today’s readings teach us a timeless lesson about faith in ac­tion. Both Hannah and Mary knew the experience of hardship and rejection, yet in all the circumstances of their lives they put their trust in God and acted according to his word. The second reading reminds us that the most potent image of God’s love is that of the parent for the child. We are the children of God and the place where we live that out first and foremost is in our fam­ilies. Samuel and Jesus learned all about self-giving from their parents.
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Donal Neary, S.J.
Various aspects of family life are highlighted in the readings today They are chosen with family life in mind – the old, the young and the child – and in praise of family life with both Elkanah and Hannah, and then Mary and Joseph coming close to God in their family life. Today is a day in praise of family marriage, sexuality, birth and of prayer for families. And in the family we learn about God – more by example than by words.
Most families manage well even in times of stress. Daily and ordinary love can overcome a lot else.
While praising the great efforts of parents today, and the strong family life which exists among us, we also look at contemporary problems: the stresses on the one-parent family; children unsure of the commitment of the parents; the effects of divorce on the children, and admitting that marriage breakup has a confusing or damaging effect on children; the long life of elderly who are very ill and require a lot of loving but difficult attention; the effects of addiction to drugs and alcohol; prison and crime.
Faith, prayer, Mass and the Church can bring us through a lot in bad days.
Jesus played his part in family life in Nazareth

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From the Connections:
 
THE WORD:
Today’s Gospel was probably a later addition to Luke’s Gospel, found in the rich oral tradition of stories told about Jesus.  Like many childhood stories of famous people, this one is retold because it shows signs in Jesus’ boyhood of the qualities that will emerge in his adulthood that will mark his life forever in history.  Luke clearly has the events of Holy Week in mind in the details he has included in the story: the journey to Jerusalem at Passover, the encounter with the teachers at the Temple, the three days Jesus is lost.
   
At the age of 12, a Jewish boy becomes a “son of the Law” -- he becomes personally responsible for following the Torah.  The faithful Jesus reveals himself as the perfect servant of his Father from the time of his first legal pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
  
It was the Jewish practice for teachers to conduct classes not in a lecture format but as an open discussion in which participants were encouraged to ask questions.  It is inaccurate to suggest, as old paintings suggest, that Jesus dominated the scene, overwhelming the teachers with the depth of his insights.  As Luke tells the story, Jesus was listening to the teachers and eagerly searching for knowledge in his questions like a highly motivated and interested student typically much older than the 12-year-old boy from Nazareth.
   
Luke reports that Mary “kept all these things in memory.”  Perhaps Mary confronted for the first time the reality that, although she was indeed his mother, her son did not belong to her.


HOMILY POINTS:
Today's feast is a celebration of family -- that unique nucleus of society that gives us life, nurture and support throughout our journey on earth.  Families are the first and best places for the love of God to come alive. 
In Matthew and Luke’s stories of Jesus birth and childhood (which were later additions to those Gospels, drawn from the many stories about Jesus’ life that were part of the early Christian oral tradition that had developed), life for the family of Joseph, Mary and Jesus is difficult and cruel: they are forced from their home; they are innocent victims of the political and social tensions of their time; they endure the suspicions of their own people when Mary's pregnancy is discovered; their child is born under the most difficult and terrifying of circumstances; they experience the agony of losing their beloved child.  And yet, through it all, their love and faithfulness to one another do not waver.  The Holy Family is a model for our families as we confront the many tensions and crises that threaten the stability, peace and unity that are the joys of being a family.
It is easy to welcome Jesus the innocent child of Christmas; much more difficult is to welcome Jesus, the humble Crucified of Holy Week and Easter.  Luke's Gospel of the Child Jesus reminds us that the crib is overshadowed by the cross, that this holy birth is the beginning of humankind's re-birth in the Resurrection. 
Jesus remains with us even when he seems most distant and farthest away, when he is nowhere to be found.  He is with us in the love and compassion of family and friends, in the forgiveness we receive and give, in the generosity and healing we make happen even in the simplest and most hidden ways.  
With Jesus, we must be about “the Father’s house,” bringing the justice, reconciliation and compassion won by the cross into our families and communities. 

Imagine losing Jesus.
You work hard to provide for your family, but your work takes you away too many days and nights, and you lose Jesus.
You become distracted by all the demands placed on you; when you are finally able to look up, you lose Jesus.
You try to walk Jesus’ path, you want to live his Gospel — but you cut too many corners, you go along to get along one too many times, you take too many moral and ethical shortcuts, and you lose Jesus.
You assume that your position is the right one — because it works for you.  But by the time you realize that your position is not right but convenient, safe but not just, good for you but bad for the common good, you lose Jesus.
You experience a separation too great, a betrayal too painful, a grief too dark.   You lose Jesus.
God does not seem to hear you, so you stop praying.

Church becomes an empty cavern, so you disengage.
The darkness and cold of winter has gripped your spirit, so you fill the void in your soul any way you can — if only to forget for the moment.
You lose Jesus.
We know the anxiety and terror Mary and Joseph felt.
Where is Jesus?
But the reality is that while we may lose Jesus, Jesus is not lost to us.
He is there in our temples, traveling in our caravans, dwelling with our families.
All we have to do is look and we will find him.
[Suggested by Lauren F. Winner in Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis.]
 
In the promise of Emmanuel — “God with us” — God comes to make his dwelling in our midst in the person of Jesus.  Jesus remains with us even when he seems most distant and farthest away, when he is no where to be found.  He is with us in the love and compassion of family and friends, in the forgiveness we receive and give, in the generosity and healing we make happen even in the simplest and most hidden ways.   With the blessed assurance of his constant presence, let us seek out Jesus in every moment and experience and relationship of the New Year.  
 
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Fr. Jude Botelho:

The first reading reminds us of duties of children towards their parents, the duty of respecting and obeying parents, authority that stands in the place of God. As people under authority we sometimes like to question our superiors and their decisions, we feel we know better and perhaps we do. Jesus the son of God was the obedient son of Mary and Joseph. He was the obedient son of God. “My food is to do the will of my Father in Heaven”. In these days when authority is questioned there is still place for obedience in our lives.

An 80-year old man was sitting on the sofa in his house along with his 45-year old highly educated son. Suddenly a crow perched on their window. The father asked the son what it was. The son replied saying it was a crow. After a few minutes the father again asked his son what it was. The son showing signs of slight irritation said it was a crow. After a little while, the father again asked his son the third time what it was. At this time some more signs of irritation were felt in the son’s tone and he said to his father with a snub that it was a crow. After a little while, again the father again asked his son the fourth time what it was. This time the son shouted at his father and rebuked him for asking the same question again and again and not understanding anything. After a while the father went to his room and returned with a tattered diary which he had maintained since his son was born. On opening a page he asked his son to read that page. The following words were written in the diary: “Today my little son aged three was sitting with me on the sofa, when a crow was sitting on the window. My son asked me 22 times what it was, and I replied all 22 times that it was a crow. I hugged him lovingly each time he asked the same question again and again for 21 times. I did not at all feel irritated I rather felt affection for my innocent child.”
From ‘The Sunday Liturgy’

The Gospel narrates the incident of Mary and Joseph bringing Jesus to the temple to offer him to the Lord. They meet two old people there, Simeon who had been waiting for the coming of the Lord and Anna the prophetess. While the focus is on Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the young family, Simeon and Anna too have their place, perhaps reminding us that old folks too, parents and grandparents have their role and place in our homes, especially within the lives of grandchildren. Often when we think of the Holy family, they are portrayed as the model family and we think that they had a very smooth, untroubled existence very unlike our own troubled families! Yet this is not true. The holy family experienced much of what we go through in our lives. They lived with insecurity! When they needed a home most they are homeless. They are emigrants in a foreign land. Just when their child is born there is insecurity again as they have to live with murder threats. They fear the murderous designs of Herod and they have to flee. After they have settled down they have to move again. As Jesus grows they lose him in the temple and they cannot understand why he has chosen to stay behind.  There is misunderstanding. Later as He goes about his mission there is separation, loneliness and ultimately death that they have to cope with. Was the Holy family an ideal family? Was it not very much like our own? What helped them to live in the family is their mutual respect and reverence for each other. They are committed to one another and support each other even if they do not understand each other’s actions completely. Ultimately it is their faith that brings about the love that unites the Holy family. To live with others we have to love others! We will then discover that God is very close to us, He is at home with us, He dwells in our midst! We may think our families are different from others but God will come none the less!

The Family
E. V. Lucas wrote a very lovely kind of parable. “A mother lost her soldier son. The news came to her in dispatches from the war. He had fallen fighting nobly at the head of his regiment. She was inconsolable. “O that I might see him again,” she prayed, “If only for five minutes – but to see him.” An angel answered her prayer. “For five minutes,” said the angel, “You will see him.” “Yes,” said the angel, “but do think a little. He was a grown man. There are thirty years to choose from. How would you like to see him?” And the mother paused and wondered. “Would you see him,” said the angel, ‘as a soldier dying heroically at his post? Would you see him again as on that day at school when he stepped to the platform to receive the highest honour a boy could have?” The mother’s eyes lit up. “Would you see him,” said the angel, “as a babe at your breast?” And slowly the mother said, “No, I would have him for five minutes as he was one day when he ran in from the garden to ask my forgiveness for being naughty. He was so small and so unhappy, and the tears were making streaks down his face through the garden dust. And he flew into my arms, with such force that he hurt me.” The one thing that the mother wished above all to recapture was the moment when her son needed her. There is nothing more moving in life than to hear someone say, “I need you; I cannot do without you.”
Anthony Castle in ‘More Quotes and Anecdotes’

Have you lost him?
When I was growing up in the country, there was a man who was classified as being ‘simple’. He was to be founded in the front row of church, chapel, Orange hall, or ‘meeting house’. One day he was on the main street of the local town, listening to an evangelist preacher, who addressed all who cared to listen from the back to truck.  He was talking about ‘finding the Lord’. Our friend was at the front of the crowd, and he had his usual vacant grin, which the preacher may have interpreted as some sort of religious trance! Anyhow, as he thumped his bible, he turned to our friend, and asked him “And you, sir, have you found the Lord?’ To which our friend replied ‘Naw. Have ya lost him?’ For once in his life, our friend was brilliant…
Jack McArdle in ‘And that’s the Gospel truth’

I’m walking in your footsteps!
It is always a busy day for any woman who is the mother of ten children. But one particular day, even doing the daily chores became difficult for Louisa because of one little boy. Bob, who was three years old, was constantly on her heels no matter where she went. Whenever she stopped to do something and turned back, she would trip over him. Several times, she suggested fun activities to keep him occupied, but he innocently smiled and said, “Oh, that’s all right, Mommy, I’d rather be in here with you.” Then, he happily went wherever his mother went. After tripping on him for the fifth time, she lost her temper and shouted at him. She said, “Why don’t you go out and play like other boys? Why do you follow me like this?” He looked up at his mother and said, “Well, Mommy, in the school my teacher told me to walk in Jesus’ footsteps. But I can’t see him, so I’m walking in yours.”
John Rose in ‘John’s Sunday Homilies’

Finding Jesus
A ‘puzzle page’ in a newspaper showed a drawing of an outdoor scene. Beneath it was this question “Can you find the girl in the drawing?” A close examination of the drawing showed the girl’s eyes and eyebrows concealed in a tree branch. Another branch hid her mouth and nose. A cloud revealed her flowing hair. After you discovered the girl, that drawing was never the same again. It is like that with Jesus. He is in our lives, waiting to be found. Once we find him, our lives will never be the same again. This raises a question: Why might I be finding it hard to find Jesus in my life?
Mark Link in ‘Vision 2000’

Family Prayer
Dorothy Day, whom the New York Times called “the most influential person in the history of American Catholicism,” says that one of her first attractions towards Catholicism came as a child when she saw an adult catholic at prayer. She writes: “It was about ten o’clock in the morning that I went up to Kathryn’s to call on her to come out to play. There was no one on the porch or in the kitchen…. I burst in…“In the front room Mrs. Barrett was on her knees, saying her prayers. She turned to tell me that Kathryn and the children had gone to the store and went on with her praying. And I felt a warm burst of love toward Mrs. Barrett.” That’s a beautiful scene, and I’m sure many of us can relate similar examples of adult Catholics at prayer.

Overcoming Absence
When an American playwright reflected on his childhood he told the story of how his father who was a telephone engineer sometimes worked away from home. At first, his father was away from home. At First, his father was away only a couple of days and this happened rarely, but then his absences became more frequent and also lasted longer. Eventually, his father never returned home. The telephone engineer had fallen in love with long distance and his son had to live his life in the felt absence of his father. There was no word, no call, no contact. Just silence and absence. It‘s impossible to have a relationship with someone who is always absent and always silent. Usually we overcome our separation from touch through phoning or writing. And Christmas has become a traditional time for keeping alive old bonds of friendship by a word of greeting. Of course the best way to keep alive the love of absent friends and relatives is to visit them. The visit is the traditional way of conquering distance and overcoming absence: so we talk of “Going to see” someone, “showing our face”, and “spending some time together”. And in the giving and receiving of hospitality, in being present to each other again, our relationship grows and deepens.


The first reading reminds us of duties of children towards their parents, the duty of respecting and obeying parents. As people under authority, we sometimes like to question our superiors and their decisions, we feel we know better and perhaps we do. Jesus the son of God was the obedient son of Mary and Joseph. He was the obedient son of God. “My food is to do the will of my father in Heaven”. In these days when authority is questioned there is still place for obedience in our lives.

Whoever obeys his father and mother will….
 
One of my earliest memories of my mother’s simple piety was to watch her while she searched for something she had lost. St Anthony was called in straightaway, and, if the object was found, she owed Anthony a few bob! While involving St Anthony, however, her audible prayer was ‘Jesus was lost, Jesus was found. Jesus was lost, Jesus was found… etc.’ It was like a mantra, but she was completely convinced that the outcome would be good. (I must confess that, when my own back was to the wall, and I had lost something precious, I just swallowed my pride, and repeated her mantra!).
 
Jack McArdle in ‘And that’s the Gospel truth!’
The Gospel narrates the incident of Mary and Joseph bringing Jesus to the temple to offer him to the Lord according to the practice of the times. Often when we think of the Holy family, they are portrayed as the model family and we think that they had a very smooth, untroubled existence so very unlike our own troubled families! Yet this is not true. The holy family shared so much of what we go through in our lives. They lived with insecurity! When they needed a home most they are homeless. Just when their child is born they live with murder threats. They fear the murderous designs of Herod and they have to flee. After they have settled down they have to move again. As Jesus grows there loose him in the temple and they cannot understand why he has chosen to stay behind. There is misunderstanding. Later as He goes about his mission there is separation, loneliness and ultimately death that they have to cope with. Was the Holy family an ideal family? What helps them to live as a family is their mutual respect and reverence for each other. They are committed to one another and support each other even if they do not understand each other’s actions completely. Ultimately it is their faith that brings about the love that unites the Holy family. To live with others we have to live for others! We will then discover that God is very close to us, He is at home. We may think our families are different from others but he will come none the less!

I’m walking in your footsteps
 
It is always a busy day for any woman who is the mother of ten children. But one particular day, even doing the daily chores became difficult for Louisa because of one little boy. Bob, who was three years old, was constantly on her heels no matter where she went. Whenever she stopped to do something and turned back, she would trip over him. Several times, she suggested fun activities to keep him occupied, but he innocently smiled and said, “Oh, that’s all right, Mommy, I’d rather be in here with you.” Then, he happily went wherever his mother went. After tripping on him for the fifth time, she lost her temper and shouted at him. She said, “Why don’t you go out and play like other boys? Why do you follow me like this?” He looked up at his mother and said, “Well, Mommy, in the school my teacher told me to walk in Jesus’ footsteps. But I can’t see him, so I’m walking in yours.” John Rose in ‘John’s Sunday Homilies’
 
Daddy, why isn’t mummy like everybody else’s mummy?
 
On a December night in Chicago, a little girl climbed onto her father's lap and asked a question. It was a simple question, yet it had a heartrending effect on Robert May. "Daddy," four year old Barbara asked, "Why isn't my Mommy just like everybody else's mommy?" On a couch lay his young wife, Evelyn, racked with cancer. For two years she had been bedridden; all Bob's income had gone for treatments and medicines. The terrible ordeal already had shattered two adult lives. Bob suddenly realised the happiness of his growing daughter was also in jeopardy. He prayed for some satisfactory answer to her question. Bob May knew only too well what it meant to be "different." As a child he had been weak and delicate. With the innocent cruelty of children, his playmates had continually goaded the stunted, skinny lad to tears. Nor was his adult life much happier. Unlike many of his classmates, Bob became a lowly copy writer for Montgomery Ward, the big Chicago Mail order house. Now at 33, Bob was deep in debt, depressed and sad. Although Bob did not know it at the time, the answer he gave the tousled haired child on his lap was to bring him to fame and fortune. On that December night Bob began to tell a story..."Once upon a time there was a reindeer named Rudolph, the only reindeer in the world that had a big red nose. Naturally people called him Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer." As Bob went on to tell about Rudolph, he tried desperately to communicate to Barbara the knowledge that, even though some creatures of God are strange and different, they often enjoy the miraculous power to make others happy. Rudolph, Bob explained, was terribly embarrassed by his unique nose. Other reindeer laughed at him; his mother and father and sister were mortified too. Even Rudolph wallowed in self pity. "Well," continued Bob, "one Christmas Eve, Santa Claus got his team of husky reindeer - Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, and Vixo ready for their yearly trip around the world. But a terrible fog engulfed the earth that evening, and Santa knew that the mist was so thick he wouldn't be able to find any chimney." "Suddenly Rudolph appeared, his red nose glowing brighter than ever. Santa sensed at once that here was the answer to his perplexing problem. He led Rudolph to the front of the sleigh, fastened the harness and climbed in." "They were off! Rudolph guided Santa safely to every chimney that night. Rain and fog, snow and sleet; nothing bothered Rudolph, for his bright nose penetrated the mist like a beacon." "And so it was that Rudolph became the most famous and beloved of all the reindeer. The huge red nose he once hid in shame was now the envy of every buck and doe in the reindeer world. Santa Claus told everyone that Rudolph had saved the day and from that Christmas, Rudolph has been ,living serenely and happy." Little Barbara laughed with glee when her father finished. Then, at Christmas time Bob decided to make the story into a poem like "The Night Before Christmas" and prepare it in bookish form illustrated with pictures, for Barbara's personal gift. Night after night, Bob worked on the verses determined his daughter would have a worthwhile gift even though he could not afford to buy one... Then as Bob was about to put the finishing touches on Rudolph, tragedy struck. Evelyn May died. Bob, his hopes crushed, turned to Barbara as chief comfort. Yet, despite his grief, he sat at his desk in the quiet, now lonely apartment, and worked on "Rudolph" with tears in his eyes. Shortly after Barbara had cried with joy over his handmade gift on Christmas morning, Bob was asked to an employee's holiday party at Montgomery Wards. He didn't want to go, but his office associates insisted. When Bob finally agreed, he took with him the poem and read it to the crowd. First the noisy throng listened in laughter and gaiety. Then they became silent, and at the end, broke into spontaneous applause. That was in 1938. By Christmas of 1947, some 6 million copies of the booklet had been given away or sold, making Rudolph one of the most widely distributed books in the world. The demand for Rudolph sponsored products, increased so much in variety and number that educators and historians predicted Rudolph would come to occupy a permanent place in the Christmas legend. -Christmas is here once again and God offers us His special gift of love - a love that is patient, pure and perfect! Unwrap His gift of love and share it with all you meet.
Anonymous
*****
ILLUSTRATIONS: 

From Fr. Tony Kadavil:

1: Grandparents are a treasure:

Pope Francis said that as a child, he heard a story of a family with a mother, father, many children and a grandfather. The grandfather, suffering from Parkinson’s illness, would drop food on the dining table, and smear it all over his face when he ate. His son considered it disgusting. Hence, one day he bought a small table and set it off to the side of the dining hall so the grandfather would eat, make a mess and not disturb the rest of the family. One day, the Pope said, the grandfather’s son came home and found one of his sons playing with a piece of wood. “What are you making?” he asked his son. “A table,” the son replies. “Why?” the father asks. “It’s for you, Dad, when you get old like grandpa, I am going to give you this table.” Ever since that day, the grandpa was given a prominent seat at the dining table and all the help he needed in eating by his son and daughter-in-law. “This story has done me such good throughout my life,” said the Pope, who will celebrate his 78th birthday on December 17. “Grandparents are a treasure,” he said. “Often old age isn’t pretty, right? There is sickness and all that, but the wisdom our grandparents have is something we must welcome as an inheritance.” A society or community that does not value, respect and care for its elderly members “doesn’t have a future because it has no memory, it’s lost its memory,” Pope Francis added. (http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2013/11/19/grandparents-are-a-treasure-says-pope-francis/) 

2: Cancer, heart disease and family relationship:

A few years ago, a study was undertaken to find the U.S. city with the lowest incidence of cancer and heart disease.  The winner was Rosetto, Pennsylvania. Soon experts descended upon the city expecting to see a town populated by non-smokers, people who ate the correct food, took regular exercise and kept close track of their cholesterol.  To their great surprise, however, the researchers discovered that none of the above was true. They found instead that the city’s good health was tied to the close family bonds that prevailed within the community.   This suggests that there is much to be said for a close and loving family relationship. (Robert Duggan & Richard Jajac).

3: Dying of loneliness:

In an audience Pope Paul VI told how one day, when he was Archbishop of Milan, he went out on parish visitation. During the course of the visitation he found an old woman living alone. ‘How are you?’ he asked her. ‘Not bad,’ she answered. ‘I have enough food, and I’m not suffering from the cold.’ ‘You must be reasonably happy then?’ he said. ‘No, I’m not’, she said as she started to cry. ‘You see, my son and daughter-in-law never come to see me. I’m dying of loneliness.’ Afterwards he was haunted by the phrase ‘I’m dying of loneliness’. And the Pope concluded: ‘Food and warmth are not enough in themselves. People need something more. They need our presence, our time, our love. They need to be touched, to be reassured that they are not forgotten’ (Flor McCarthy in New Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies).

4: Dying of loneliness:

In an audience Pope Paul VI told how one day, when he was Archbishop of Milan, he went out on parish visitation. During the course of the visitation he found an old woman living alone. ‘How are you?’ he asked her. ‘Not bad,’ she answered. ‘I have enough food, and I’m not suffering from the cold.’ ‘You must be reasonably happy then?’ he said. ‘No, I’m not’, she said as she started to cry. ‘You see, my son and daughter-in-law never come to see me. I’m dying of loneliness.’ Afterwards he was haunted by the phrase ‘I’m dying of loneliness’. And the Pope concluded: ‘Food and warmth are not enough in themselves. People need something more. They need our presence, our time, our love. They need to be touched, to be reassured that they are not forgotten.’ (Flor McCarthy in ‘New Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies’)

5: “Daddy, could you please sell me one hour of your time?”

A little boy greets his father as he returns from work with a question: “Daddy, how much do you make an hour?” The father is surprised and says, “Look, son, not even your mother knows. Don’t bother me now, I’m tired.” “But Daddy, just tell me please! How much do you make an hour?” the boy insists. The father finally gives up and replies, “Twenty dollars.” “Okay, Daddy,” the boy continues, “Could you loan me ten dollars?” The father yells at him, “So that was the reason you asked how much I earn, right? Now, go to sleep and don’t bother me anymore!” At night the father thinks over what he said and starts feeling guilty. Maybe his son needed to buy something. Finally, he goes to his son's room. “Are you asleep, son?” asks the father. “No, Daddy. Why?” replies the boy. “Here's the money you asked for earlier,” the father said. “Thanks, Daddy!” replies the boy and receives the money. The he reaches under his pillow and brings out some more money. “Now I have enough! Now I have twenty dollars!” says the boy to his father, “Daddy, could you sell me one hour of your time?” Today’s readings have a message for this man and for all of us, and the message is that we need to invest more of our time in our family life. 

6: Making the family a confessional rather than a court room.

A senior Judge of the Supreme Court once congratulated the bride and groom in a marriage with a pertinent piece of advice: “See that you never convert your family into a court room; instead let it be a confessional. If the husband and wife start arguing like attorneys, in an attempt to justify their behavior, their family becomes a court of law and nobody wins. On the other hand, if the husband and the wife -- as in a confessional -- are ready to admit their faults and try to correct them, the family becomes a heavenly one.” Thus we can avoid the dangers we watch in dysfunctional families as presented in TV in the shows like Married with Children, The Simpson’s, Everyone Loves Raymond and Malcolm in the Middle.  

7: Let us extend the boundaries of our family:

The homeless man or woman today in the streets of big cities, fighting the cold and the snow, is part of our family. The drug addict in a den, or living in fear and aloneness this day, is a member of our family. The sick person, dying, alone, dirty and maybe even obnoxious, is a member of our family. The person sitting in the prison cell for whatever reason is also a child of God, and as such, according to St. John, is a member of our family. All these, as well as the cherished intimate members of our family, are “family valuables,” and, as such, are worthy of safekeeping and reverence. Let us pray for the grace of caring for one another in our own families, for each member of the parish family, and for all families of the universal Church. 

8: Every Holy Mass in which we participate is our feast of presentation.

Although we were officially presented to God on the day of our baptism we are presenting ourselves and our dear ones on the altar before God our Father through our Savior Jesus Christ at every Holy Mass. Hence we need to live our daily lives with the double awareness that we are dedicated people consecrated to God and that we are obliged to lead holy lives.

1: Long Training: A mother goes to her pastor and explains that her son seems very interested in becoming a priest. She would like to know what this would require. So the priest begins to explain: "If he wants to become a diocesan priest, he'll have to study for eight years. If he wants to become a Franciscan, he'll have to study for ten years. If he wants to become a Jesuit, he'll have to study for fourteen years." [This joke originated back when young men entered seminaries right after high school.] The mother listens carefully, and as the priest concludes, her eyes brighten. "Sign him up for that last one, Father -- he's a little slow!" 

****************
From Sermon Illustrations: 

Clovis Chappell, a minister from a century back, used to tell the story of two paddleboats. They left Memphis about the same time, traveling down the Mississippi River to New Orleans. As they traveled side by side, sailors from one vessel made a few remarks about the snail's pace of the other. Words were exchanged. Challenges were made. And the race began. Competition became vicious as the two boats roared through the Deep South.

One boat began falling behind. Not enough fuel. There had been plenty of coal for the trip, but not enough for a race. As the boat dropped back, an enterprising young sailor took some of the ship's cargo and tossed it into the ovens. When the sailors saw that the supplies burned as well as the coal, they fueled their boat with the material they had been assigned to transport. They ended up winning the race, but burned their cargo.

God has entrusted cargo to us, too: children, spouses, friends. Our job is to do our part in seeing that this cargo reaches its destination. Yet when the program takes priority over people, people often suffer. How much cargo do we sacrifice in order to achieve the number one slot? How many people never reach the destination because of the aggressiveness of a competitive captain?

In the Eye of the Storm by Max Lucado Word Publishing, 1991, pp. 97-98.




Even that first famous Adams generation (children of 2nd president John Adams, 1735-1826) had more than its share of black sheep. John and Abigail's eldest child, Abigail, married a wastrel and at her death left her children to their care. Son Charles married the sister of his spendthrift brother-in-law, dissipated family funds, died of alcoholism and left his widow to the care of his parents. Son Thomas Boylston also became an alcoholic, again bequeathing his children to the care of the family. Though John Quincy (1767-1848) turned out well, he and his unhappy wife Louisa hardly went unscathed. Thier first son was an alcoholic and committed suicide at the age of 31. Their next son was expelled from college, failed in business and died of an alcohol-related illness. Only their youngest son, Charles Francis (1807-86), reacted against the family pattern by his exemplary sobriety, his prudence in business and fervent dedication to his wife and children. He spent years writing the biography and editing the words of his grandfather John Adams. But he concluded, "The history of my family is not a pleasant one to remember. It is one of great triumphs in the world but of deep groans within, one of extraordinary brilliancy and deep corroding mortification."

Charles Francis Adams, grandson of 2nd President John Adams, son of 6th president John Quincy Adams, in U.S. News and World Report, Dec 12, 1988




It started with Rent-A-Wife, a small Petaluma, California, company created by Karen Donovan to help clients decorate their homes, balance checkbooks, run errands, etc. Donovan, who launched her business through a small ad in the local newspaper, is already thinking big after four months of operation. She wants to hire her father to initiate Rent-A-Husband and her two teens to start Rent-A-Family. "We can do what any family does," the newfangled entrepreneur joked. "We can come over and eat all the food, turn on all the lights, put handprints on the walls, take showers and leave the towels on the floor. When clients are finished with Rent-A-Family, they'll have to call Rent-A-Wife.

Campus Life, October, 1980.




In 1978, Thomas Hansen of Boulder Colorado, sued his parents for $350,000 on grounds of "malpractice of parenting." Mom and Dad had botched his upbringing so badly, he charged in his suit, that he would need years of costly psychiatric treatment.

Unknown.




Statistics and Commentary

The evidence is convincing that the better our relationships are at home, the more effective we are in our careers. If we're having difficulty with a loved one, that difficulty will be translated into reduced performance on the job. In studying the millionaires in America (U.S. News and World Report), a picture of the "typical" millionaire is an individual who has worked eight to ten hours a day for thirty years and is still married to his or her high school or college sweetheart. A New York executive search firm, in a study of 1365 corporate vice presidents, discovered that 87% were still married to their one and only spouse and that 92% were raised in two-parent families. The evidence is overwhelming that the family is the strength and foundation of society. Strengthen your family ties and you'll enhance your opportunity to succeed.

Zig Ziglar in Homemade, March 1989.




According to a study of more than 500 family counselors, the following are the top traits of successful families:


*Communicating and listening *Affirming and supporting family members *Respecting one another *Developing a sense of trust *Sharing time and responsibility *Knowing right from wrong *Having rituals and traditions *Sharing a religious core *Respecting privacy.

Focus on the Family Bulletin, December, 1988 .




From a national survey of strong families conducted by the Human Development and Family Department at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln, a profile of a strong family:

Appreciation. "Family members gave one another compliments and sincere demonstrations of approval. They tried to make the others feel appreciated and good about themselves."
Ability to Deal with Crises in a Positive Manner. "They were willing to take a bad situation, see something positive in it and focus on that."
Time Together. "In all areas of their lives--meals, work, recreation--they structured their schedules to spend time together."
High Degree of Commitment. "Families promoted each person's happiness and welfare, invested time and energy in each other and made family their number one priority."
Good Communication Patterns. "These families spent time talking with each other. They also listened well, which shows respect."
High Degree of Religious Orientation. "Not all belonged to an organized church, but they considered themselves highly religious." (1983)

Human Development and Family Department at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln.




Families in 2000 will average 1.81 children, down from 1.84 today. Some 60 percent of kids born in the '80s will live for a time with one parent; 1 kid in 4 will live with a stepparent by age 16. One third of all households will be childless. . . Supporting a teenager still at home will cost $12,000 a year against $7,000 now. Kids who head to college in 2000 will need upwards of $100,000 for each bachelor's degree.

U.S. News and World Report, Dec 25, 1989.




Rudyard Kipling once wrote about families, "all of us are we--and everyone else is they." A family shares things like dreams, hopes, possessions, memories, smiles, frowns, and gladness...A family is a clan held together with the glue of love and the cement of mutual respect. A family is shelter from the storm, a friendly port when the waves of life become too wild. No person is ever alone who is a member of a family.

Fingertip Facts.




Parents rate their inability to spend enough time with their children as the greatest threat to the family. In a survey conducted for the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Corp., 35 percent pointed to time constraints as the most important reason for the decline in family values. Another 22 percent mentioned a lack of parental discipline. While 63 percent listed family as their greatest source of pleasure, only 44 percent described the quality of family life in America as good or excellent. And only 34 percent expected it to be good or excellent by 1999. Despite their expressed desire for more family time, two-thirds of those surveyed say they would probably accept a job that required more time away from home if it offered higher income or greater prestige.

Moody Monthly, December, 1989, p. 72.




Sociologist and historian Carle Zimmerman, in his 1947 book Family and Civilization, recorded his keen observations as he compared the disintegration of various cultures with the parallel decline of family life in those cultures. Eight specific patterns of domestic behavior typified the downward spiral of each culture Zimmerman studied.

*Marriage loses its sacredness...is frequently broken by divorce.
*Traditional meaning of the marriage ceremony is lost.
*Feminist movements abound.
*Increased public disrespect for parents and authority in general.
*Acceleration of juvenile delinquency, promiscuity, and rebellion.
*Refusal of people with traditional marriages to accept family responsibilities.
*Growing desire for and acceptance of adultery.
*Increasing interest in and spread of sexual perversions and sex-related crimes.

Swindoll, The Quest For Character, Multnomah, p. 90.




Becoming good at the things that build inner confidence and calm takes practice -- and a dash of creativity! The following list might provide some cloudseeding for a brainstorm or two of your own. Have some fun with your family...and get ready for a good rest.

1. Pay off your credit cards.
2. Take off ten pounds or accept where you are without any more complaints.
3. Eat dinner together as a family for seven days in a row.
4. Take your wife on a dialogue date (no movie, guys).
5. Read your kids a classic book (Twain's a good start).
6. Memorize the Twenty-third Psalm as a family.
7. Give each family member a hug for twenty-one days in a row (that's how long the experts say it takes to develop a habit). 

8. Pick a night of the week in which the television will remain unplugged.
9. Go out for a non-fast food dinner as a family.
10. Pray for your spouse and children every day.
11. Plan a vacation together.
12. Take a vacation together.
13. Read a chapter from the Bible every day until it becomes a habit.
14. Sit together as a family in church.
15. Surprise your teenage. Wash his car and fill up his gas tank.
16. Take an afternoon off from work; surprise your child by excusing him from school and taking him to a ball game.
17. Take a few hours one afternoon and go to the library as a family.
18. Take a walk as a family.
19. Write each member of your family a letter sharing why you value them.
20. Give your spouse a weekend getaway with a friend (same gender!) to a place of their choice.
21. Go camping as a family.
22. Go to bed early (one hour before your normal bedtime) every day for a week.
23. Take each of your children out to breakfast (individually) at least once a month for a year.
24. Turn down a promotion that would demand more time from your family than you can afford to give.
25. Religiously wear your seat belts.
26. Get a complete physical.
27. Exercise a little every day for a month.
28. Make sure you have adequate life insurance on both you and your spouse.
29. Write out information about finances, wills, and important business information that your spouse can use to keep things under control in the event of your death.
30. Make sure your family car is safe (tires, brakes, etc.) and get it tuned up.
31. Replace the batteries in your smoke alarm.
32. Put a security system in your house.
33. Attend the parent/teacher meetings of each child as a couple.
34. Help your kids with their homework.
35. Watch the kids on Saturday while your wife goes shopping (but if a friend calls, don't say that you're "babysitting").
36. Explain to your spouse exactly what you do for a living.
37. Put together a picture puzzle. (One thousand pieces or more.)
38. Take time during the week to read a Bible story to your children and then discuss it with them.
39. Encourage each child to submit to you his most perplexing question, and promise him that you'll either answer it or discuss it with him.
40. Finish fixing something around the house.
41. Tell your kids how you and your spouse met.
42. Tell your kids about your first date.
43. Sit down and write your parents a letter thanking them for a specific thing they did for you. (Don't forget to send it!)
44. Go on a shopping spree where you are absolutely committed to buying nothing.
45. Keep a prayer journal for a month. Keep track of the specific ways that God answers your needs.
46. Do some stargazing away from the city with your family. Help your children identify constellations and conclude the evening with prayer to the majestic God who created the heavens.
47. Treat your wife to a beauty make-over (facial, manicure, haircut, etc.). I hear they really like this.
48. Give the kids an alternative to watching Saturday morning cartoons (breakfast at McDonald's, garage sales, the park, chores, etc.).
49. Ask your children each day what they did at school (what they learned, who they ate lunch with, etc.).
50. After you make your next major family decision, take your child back through the process and teach him how you arrived at your decision.
51. Start saying to yourself "My car doesn't look so bad."
52. Call you wife or husband from work just to see how they're doing.
53. Compile a family tree and teach your children the history of their ancestors.
54. Walk through an old graveyard with your children.
55. Say no to at least one thing a day -- even if it's only a second piece of pie.
56. Write that letter to the network that broadcast the show you felt was inappropriate for prime-time viewing.
57. Turn off the lights and listen to a "praise" tape as you focus your thoughts on the Lord.
58. Write a note to your pastor praising him for something.
59. Take back all the books in your library that actually belong in someone else's library.
60. Give irritating drivers the right to pull in front of you without signaling and yelling at them.
61. Make every effort to not let the sun go down on your anger.
62. Accept legitimate criticism from your wife or a friend without reacting or defending yourself.
63. If your car has a Christian bumper sticker on in -- drive like it.
64. Do a Bible study on the "wise man" and the "fool" in Proverbs...and then apply what it takes to be wise to your life.
65. Make a list of people who have hurt your feelings over the past year...then check your list to see if you've forgiven them.
66. Make a decision to honor your parents, even if they made a career out of dishonoring you.
67. Take your children to the dentist and doctor for your wife.
68. Play charades with your family, but limit subjects to memories of the past.
69. Do the dishes for your wife.
70. Schedule yourself a free day to stay home with your family.
71. Get involved in a family project that serves or helps someone less fortunate.
72. As a family, get involved in a recreational activity.
73. Send your wife flowers.
74. Spend an evening going through old pictures from family vacations.
75. Take a weekend once a year for you and your spouse to get away and renew your friendship.
76. Praise your spouse and children -- in their presence -- to someone else.
77. Discuss a world or national problem, and ask your children for their opinion on it.
78. Wait up for your teenagers when they are out on dates.
79. Have a "quiet Saturday" (no television, no radio, no stereo...no kidding).
80. If your children are little, spend an hour playing with them -- but let them determine the game.
81. Have your parents tell your children about life when they were young.
82. Give up soap operas.
83. De-clutter your house.
84. If you have a habit of watching late night television, but have to be to work early every morning, change your habit.
85. Don't accept unnecessary breakfast appointments.
86. Write missionaries regularly.
87. Go through your closets and give everything that you haven't worn in a year to a clothing relief organization.
88. Become a faithful and frequent visitor of your church's library.
89. Become a monthly supporter of a Third World child.
90. Keep mementos, school projects, awards, etc. of each child in separate files. You'll appreciate these when they've left the nest.
91. Read the biography of a missionary.
92. Give regularly and faithfully to conscientious church endeavors.
93. Place with your will a letter to each family member telling why you were glad you got to share life with him or her.
94. Go through your old records and tapes and discard any of them that might be a bad testimony to your children.
95. Furnish a room (or a corner of a room) with comfortable chairs and declare it the "disagreement corner." When conflicts arise, go to this corner and don't leave until it's resolved.
96. Give each child the freedom to pick his favorite dinner menu at least once a week.
97. Go over to a shut-in's house as a family and completely clean it and get the lawn work done.
98. Call an old friend from your past, just to see how he or she is getting along.
99. Get a good friend to hold you accountable for a specific important need (Bible reading, prayer, spending time with your family, losing a few pounds, etc.).
100. Establish a budget.
101. Go to a Christian marriage enrichment seminar.

Tim Kimmel, Little House on the Freeway, pp. 219-223.




Humor

At the annual family-reunion picnic, a young bride led her husband over to an old woman busily crocheting in a rocker. "Granny," she said, touching the old woman's hand affectionately, "this is my new husband." The woman eyed him critically for a long moment, then asked abruptly, "Do you desire children?" Startled by her bluntness, the young man blushed and stammered, "Well-uh-yes, I do very much." "Well," she said, looking scornfully at the large tribe gathered around the six picnic tables, "try to control it!"

Colleen Pifer.




To prove his love for her, he swam the deepest river, crossed the widest desert and climbed the highest mountain. She divorced him. He was never home.

Rose Sands, The Saturday Evening Post.




Who can ever forget Winston Churchill's immortal words: "We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills." It sounds exactly like our family vacation.

Robert Orben.




An exhaustive study shows that no woman has ever shot her husband while he was doing the dishes.

Earl Wilson.




A woman was at home doing some cleaning when the telephone rang. In going to answer it, she tripped on a scatter rug and, grabbing for something to hold onto, seized the telephone table. It fell over with a crash, jarring receiver off the hook. As it fell, it hit the family dog, who leaped up, howling and barking. The woman's three-year-old son, startled by this noise, broke into loud screams. The woman mumbled some colorful words. She finally managed to pick up the receiver and lift it to her ear, just in time to hear her husband's voice on the other end say, "Nobody's said hello yet, but I'm positive I have the right number."

James Dent, Charleston, W.Va., Gazette.




The man who seldom finds himself in hot water is the one with a wife, several daughters and one bathroom.

Unknown.

*******
Story:

Once upon a time there was this young man, Peter Patrick, who could hardly wait to go off to college. Starting half way through his junior year in high school, he decided that his family was ruining his life, almost every day. His father was a tyrant who didn’t know what it was like to be a teenager. His mother was a crab. His younger sister was a spy. His younger brother like a total dork – and a nuisance too. The summer before he want to college was sheer agony. He’d learned in one of his classes that some guy – he thought it was probably a German – said that Hell is other people. The guy was certainly right. Hell in fact is your family especially when you’re young.

So college began. It wasn’t as much fun as Peter Patrick had expected. In fact, it wasn’t any fun at all. He couldn’t find the way to his classes, his adviser was never in, he didn’t know where the mail boxes were, he didn’t figure out how to get his laundry done. The food was terrible. The teachers were creeps. The other students were dorks. The women were stuck-up. Some of his fellow freshmen were drunk every night of the week. The dorm smelled of vomit all the time. There was never any quiet to study, even if he wanted to. College, he finally admitted to himself, was a big mistake. Peter Patrick told his parents, when he called to ask for more money, that he loved it. College was great, college was wonderful. He wasn’t sure he could make it till Thanksgiving. He told all his friends that he loved college. They replied that they did too. It was wonderful to be on your own.

 He didn’t want to go back after Thanksgiving because Christmas was probably a couple of years away. At Christmas he acted like he was condemned man at death row. Finally a girl he knew named Sheila said to him, Petey Pat, you hate college like we all do because there’s no one there who loves us like our families did. Don’t try to fool me. Well, said Peter Patrick, what should I do? E-mail, said Sheila, who was very smart, that way you can talk to your parents and your siblings (she actually said siblings) every day. It will be almost like being home. So Peter Patrick got himself an e mail account and talked to his family every day. He said to Sheila the next time he saw her, the guy was wrong. Hell isn’t other people, Heaven is.  

1. Some years ago, the Journal of the American Medical Association published an article by Dr. Paul Ruskin on the "Stages of Aging." In the article, Dr. Ruskin described a case study he had presented to his students when teaching a class in medical school. He described the case study patient under his care like this:

"The patient neither speaks nor comprehends the spoken word. Sometimes she babbles incoherently for hours on end. She is disoriented about person, place, and time. She does, however, respond to her name... I have worked with her for the past six months, but she still shows complete disregard for her physical appearance and makes no effort to assist her own care. She must be fed, bathed, and clothed by others. 

"Because she has no teeth, her food must be pureed. Her shirt is usually soiled from almost incessant drooling. She does not walk. Her sleep pattern is erratic. Often she wakes in the middle of the night and her screaming awakens others. Most of the time she is friendly and happy, but several times a day she gets quite agitated without apparent cause. Then she wails until someone comes to comfort her."

 After presenting the class with this challenging case, Dr. Ruskin then asked his students if any of them would like to volunteer to take care of this person. No one volunteered. Then Dr. Ruskin said, "I'm surprised that none of you offered to help, because actually she is my favorite patient. I get immense pleasure from taking care of her and I am learning so much from her. She has taught me a depth of gratitude I never knew before. She has taught me the spirit of unwavering trust. And she has taught me the power of unconditional love." Then Dr. Ruskin said, "Let me show you her picture." He pulled out the picture and passed it around. It was the photo of his six-month-old baby daughter.
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2. Baptismal rituals are very different today than they were in the early church. There is a fourth-century rubric that instructs the bishop to enter the baptistery and give this command in a loud voice: "Take off your clothes." Whereupon our ancestors were immersed in the water of the font, with the men and women separated.  

Did you ever imagine that those words "Take off your clothes" were part of Christian worship?

Everyone knows the Hans Christian Andersen story of "The Emperor's New Clothes." A couple of smooth-talking swindlers convince an egotistical king that he has just purchased the most gorgeous, elaborate, royal suit of clothes ever stitched together by human hands. Only those who are "hopelessly stupid" or "unfit for their position" can't see the beautiful clothes.

In reality, of course, the weavers have stripped the Emperor naked and he is parading around in his birthday suit. Yet the Emperor is so convinced he is wearing royal robes that none of his servants or secretaries, cohorts or companions will dare tell him the truth. It is not until a little child blurts out the fact, "But he isn't wearing anything at all!" that the Emperor sees and grasps his state of undress.

This week's Colossians text is like that child's voice. It tells us clearly what naked faith looks like, and describes the garments worn by a genuine community of Christ...
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 3. Christ in the Temple 

There is a famous oil painting called "Christ Teaching in The Temple." The painting gets it wrong. It comes from an era when religious people were still uneasy with the notion that Jesus was like the rest of us. In this picture he is standing in the midst of the elders looking very wise, obviously delivering a lecture. He is talking and pointing and they are listening. He had, no doubt, appeared to instruct them in the law, as if he knew what they didn't. But that's not what the text says. They found him, says Luke, "listening to (the teachers) and asking them questions." He was not the authority; he was the student. He was there to listen and learn. Now it is true that the religious leaders were impressed by how much he knew, and by how he answered their questions. But there is nothing in this text which indicates he was a precocious know it all.

Adapted from When It Is Dark Enough, Charles H. Bayer, CSS Publishing Lima, Ohio.
---------------------
4. Truth springs from argument amongst friends. 

Scottish philosopher David Hume 
__________________
5. Significance of Things Eternal 

Parish ministers will tell you that people come to them speaking with regrets like these:

When I was young, my mother was going to read me a story, but she had to wax the bathroom floor and there wasn't time.
When I was young, my grandparents were going to come for Christmas, but they couldn't get someone to feed the dogs and my grandfather did not like the cold weather and besides they didn't have time.

When I was young, my father was going to listen to me read my essay on "What I Want To Be When I Grow Up," but there was Monday Night Football and there wasn't time.
When I was young, my father and I were going to go hiking in the Sierras, but at the last minute he had to fertilize the lawn and there wasn't time.

When I grew up and left home to be married, I was going to sit down with Mom and Dad and tell them I love them and would miss them, but my best man was honking the horn in front of my house so there wasn't time.

Into our hectic world, Jesus comes, and still invites us to exercise the spirit as well as the mind and the body. The best way we exercise the spirit is by giving attention to things of eternal significance, such as listening, loving, and learning from the least expected places.

Richard A. Wing
_____________________
6. School Is a Part of Life

A young woman named Donna who got good grades in high school was in her first year of college. She had done poorly on one of her courses. In an attempt to prepare her parents she wrote her mother, "If you see an unfamiliar letter on my report card, remember it's just my first initial. Signed, Donna." As the time neared for grades to be sent home, Donna began to worry. Her worst fears were confirmed one evening when her mother called her. Donna said, "Hi, Mom." Her mother replied coldly, "Hello, Frank."

School is part of life. For the Christian there are two kinds of education. There is education at school and on the job. And there is religious education about our faith. We have just celebrated Christmas. Unfortunately, we don't know much about the next few years in Jesus' life. We can imagine he lived in a home filled with love. We can imagine as a boy he worked with his father Joseph in the carpenter shop, learning a trade although Jesus' real vocation would surface in our lesson for today.

King Duncan
___________________________________
 7. Growing Up Fast

Kids grow up awfully fast these days. It seems like one minute you are trying to encourage your child to go faster on his bicycle, to get up enough speed to stay balanced, and the next you are pleading with the same boy now at the wheel of a car, pleading with him to slow down and live. One minute you're urging a shy daughter to say hello to strangers, and the very next, you're trying to discourage her from responding to strangers on the Internet.
Jesus is growing up fast too. Here we are, less than a week from Christmas, from the baby lying in a manger. Now Jesus is already an adolescent wandering off on his own. Last week Jesus was "prophecy miraculously fulfilled." This week he is questioning the teachers of that very tradition.

The classical confessions of the church hold that Jesus is "fully human, fully God," and in today's familiar story from Luke, we can see both sides. Jesus, fully human, is growing up as all mortals must. In the process, Jesus has scared his parents half to death as all teen-agers do. Jesus is asking questions, as should we all, and he is listening to learn, as all we must. And in this story, we see the twelve-year old Jesus fully divine with everyone amazed at his understanding and his answers. We hear Jesus declaring his unique relationship with God the Father as only the Son can do.

Sid Burgess
-------------- 
8. Small Things to Be Done with Great Love 

It took me a long while to hear this truth from Mother Teresa: "There are no big deals anymore, just small things to be done with great love." 

Most of this coming year will be spent in ordinary time. We enter into the season on the church calendar marked as "ordinary time." What a good prophetic note for the New Year: most of the good that will be done will be done in ordinary time, when no one is looking and no one will report it to the paper.  

Here comes the New Year, full of ordinary time. We will enter it ready to slug it out for the common good while no one is looking. In the middle of ordinary time, God comes with extraordinary moments that make all others bearable, believable, and worthwhile.

I have always thought that while our nation works out negotiations with other countries, like with North Korea, we only see the leaders in the news. But, if the whole story were revealed, we would see nameless people on both sides of the issue tirelessly speaking to each other through the night in order to work out an agreement. Leaders sit down and sign documents that were slugged out by unknowns in the night during ordinary time.
Richard A. Wing,
________________________________________________
9. Erma's New Year's Resolutions 

The late Erma Bombeck made these New Year's resolutions:  

1. I'm going to clean this dump just as soon as the kids grow up.
2. I will go to no doctor whose office plants have died.
3. I'm going to follow my husband's suggestion to put a little excitement into my life by living within our budget.
4. I'm going to apply for a hardship scholarship to Weight Watchers.
5. I will never loan my car to anyone I have given birth to.
6. And just like last year...I am going to remember that my children need love the most when they deserve it the least. 

Erma Bombeck, Resolutions for a New Year
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10. Our Children Can Teach Us

Some years ago in a midwestern town a little boy was born blind. His mother and father were heartsick, but they struggled with his blindness the best they could. Like all such parents, they prayed and hoped for some miracle. They wanted so much for their son to be able to see. Then one day when the little boy was 5 years old, the community doctor told them that he had heard about a surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital who was specializing in a new surgical procedure that might just work for their son... that might just give their little boy his eyesight.

The parents became excited at the prospect, but when they investigated further and discovered the cost of the surgery and the travel and the hospital expense involved, they became deflated because they were not people of means at all. In fact, some would call them poor. But word got out in the community and their church rallied to help them. In a short period of time, the money was raised to send them to Boston for the surgery.

On the morning they were to leave for Boston, the little boy gathered his things together including his tattered little teddy bear. It had an ear chewed off, was missing an eye, and was bursting at the seams. His mother said, "Son, why don't you leave that old teddy bear at home? He's about worn out. Maybe we can buy you a new one in Boston or when we get back." But he said, "No, I need it."

So off to Boston they went. He held tightly to that teddy bear all the way. The surgeon sensed how important the teddy bear was to the little boy, so he allowed the boy to keep the bear with him throughout all the many examinations prior to surgery. On the morning of the surgery, the hospital staff brought in two surgical gowns - one for the little boy and a smaller version for the teddy bear - and off to the operating room they went... a little blind boy on a stretcher holding on dearly to his beloved teddy bear. 

The surgery went well. The doctor felt good about what they were able to accomplish. "I think he will be able to see," said the surgeon, "but we won't know for sure until we remove the bandages in a few days."

 Finally the day came for the doctor to remove the bandages. The nurses and interns stood with the parents as the surgeon slowly unwound the gauze from the boy's eyes. Miracle of miracles! The little boy could see! For the first time in his life... he saw his mother's face, he saw his dad and his doctor, he saw flowers and candy and balloons and the people who had cared for him. For the first time in his life, he saw his teddy bear. It was a joyous celebration!

When it came time for the boy to leave the hospital, his surgeon came into the room. The doctor had grown so attached to the little boy that he had to busy himself with those insignificant gestures that we... when we are trying to surmount a great wall of emotion. They said their good-byes with tears of joy all around... and then the doctor turned to leave. The little boy called him back...
 
When the time came for the boy to be discharged he had new clothes but the same bear.  The head surgeon approached the boy to say goodbye and the boy simply handed the bear to the doctor and said, Here doctor, I want to pay you for helping me. The doctor accepted the bear.

For months after that if you had gone to the tenth floor of the white building in the Mass
General Hospital Complex, you could have seen this teddy bear.  The doctor had placed it in a glass case in the corridor.  There it sat, one ear chewed, stuffing coming out and one eye missing.  Under the bear the doctor had placed his profession calling card and below his name was written, This is the highest fee I ever received for professional services rendered.”
The doctor had given a great gift to this child, the gift of sight.  The boy then offered to the doctor his most precious possession.  In accepting the bear the doctor allowed the little boy to experience the joy of giving 
------------------- 
11. Long Training:  

A mother goes to her pastor and explains that her son seems very interested in becoming a priest.  She would like to know what this would require.  So the priest begins to explain:  "If he wants to become a diocesan priest, he'll have to study for eight years.  If he wants to become a Franciscan, he'll have to study for ten years.  If he wants to become a Jesuit, he'll have to study for fourteen years."  [This joke originated back when young men entered seminaries right after high school.]  The mother listens carefully, and as the priest concludes, her eyes brighten. "Sign him up for that last one, Father -- he's a little slow!"    

12. Dying of loneliness:  

In an audience, Pope Paul VI told how one day when he was Archbishop of Milan, he went out on parish visitation. During the course of the visitation he found an old woman living alone. "How are you?"' he asked her. "Not bad," she answered. "I have enough food, and I’m not suffering from the cold." "You must be reasonably happy then?" he said. "No, I’m not," she said as she started to cry. "You see, my son and daughter-in-law never come to see me. I’m dying of loneliness." Afterwards he was haunted by the phrase, "I’m dying of loneliness." And the Pope concluded: "Food and warmth are not enough in themselves. People need something more. They need our presence, our time, our love. They need to be touched, to be reassured that they are not forgotten" (Flor McCarthy in New Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies). 
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13. Cancer, heart disease and family relationship:
 
A few years ago, a study was undertaken to find the U.S. city with the lowest incidence of cancer and heart disease.  The winner was Rosetto, Pennsylvania. Soon experts descended upon the city, expecting to see a town populated by non-smokers, people who ate the correct food, took regular exercise and kept close track of their cholesterol.  To their great surprise, however, the researchers discovered that none of the above was true. They found instead that the city’s good health was tied to the close family bonds that prevailed within the community.   This suggests that there is much to be said for a close and loving family relationship (Robert Duggan & Richard Jajac).  

--------------------
14. “Daddy, could you please sell me one hour of your time?” 

A little boy greets his father as he returns from work with a question: “Daddy, how much do you make an hour?” The father is surprised and says, “Look, son, not even your mother knows. Don’t bother me now, I’m tired.” “But Daddy, just tell me please! How much do you make an hour?” the boy insists. The father finally gives up and replies, “Twenty dollars.” “Okay, Daddy,” the boy continues, “Could you loan me ten dollars?” The father yells at him, “So that was the reason you asked how much I earn, right? Now, go to sleep and don’t bother me anymore!” At night the father thinks over what he said and starts feeling guilty. Maybe his son needed to buy something. Finally, he goes to his son's room. “Are you asleep, son?” asks the father. “No, Daddy. Why?” replies the boy. “Here's the money you asked for earlier,” the father said. “Thanks, Daddy!” replies the boy and receives the money. The he reaches under his pillow and brings out some more money. “Now I have enough! Now I have twenty dollars!” says the boy to his father, “Daddy, could you sell me one hour of your time?” Today’s readings have a message for this man and for all of us, and the message is that we need to invest more of our time in our family life.

14. The Priest and the Bishop

A young priest went to his bishop with this complaint:
"I have great difficulty preaching. I cannot get the people's attention."
After stroking his chin His Excellency suggested: "Say something striking at the beginning of your homily."
"Could you give me an example?" begged the young priest.
"Well," suggested the bishop, "you might start like this: 'I am in love'; 'I am in love with a married woman'; 'Her name is Mary'".
Next Sunday the priest started his sermon thus:
"The bishop is in love'; He is in love with a married woman'.
After an embarrassing pause the priest continued: "But I have forgotten her name."

Msgr. Arthur Tonne - Jokes Priests Can Tell
-----------------------------
From Sermons.com:

Some years ago, the Journal of the American Medical Association published an article by Dr. Paul Ruskin on the "Stages of Aging." In the article, Dr. Ruskin described a case study he had presented to his students when teaching a class in medical school. He described the case study patient under his care like this: 

"The patient neither speaks nor comprehends the spoken word. Sometimes she babbles incoherently for hours on end. She is disoriented about person, place, and time. She does, however, respond to her name... I have worked with her for the past six months, but she still shows complete disregard for her physical appearance and makes no effort to assist her own care. She must be fed, bathed, and clothed by others.

"Because she has no teeth, her food must be pureed. Her shirt is usually soiled from almost incessant drooling. She does not walk. Her sleep pattern is erratic. Often she wakes in the middle of the night and her screaming awakens others. Most of the time she is friendly and happy, but several times a day she gets quite agitated without apparent cause. Then she wails until someone comes to comfort her." 


After presenting the class with this challenging case, Dr. Ruskin then asked his students if any of them would like to volunteer to take care of this person. No one volunteered. Then Dr. Ruskin said, "I'm surprised that none of you offered to help, because actually she is my favorite patient. I get immense pleasure from taking care of her and I am learning so much from her. She has taught me a depth of gratitude I never knew before. She has taught me the spirit of unwavering trust. And she has taught me the power of unconditional love." Then Dr. Ruskin said, "Let me show you her picture." He pulled out the picture and passed it around. It was the photo of his six-month-old baby daughter. 

Now, I like that story for several reasons...

__________________________
I selected this lovely hymn this morning, "Once in Royal David's City," because of its reference to the childhood of Jesus. It is one of the few places where you will find any reference to the fact that he grew up the way we have to. The third verse reads, "Jesus is our childhood's pattern; day by day, like us he grew." 

The hymn was part of a fascinating project, one of a series of hymns written by Cecil Alexander, back in 1848, to teach children the meaning of the Apostles' Creed. "Once in Royal David's City" was written to explain that article, "Conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary," which in theology is called, "The Incarnation." Alexander interprets "The Incarnation" to mean, "He was little, weak, and helpless, tears and smiles like us he knew." Then she explained in the hymn why it is important for us to know that Jesus was like us. "And he feeleth for our sadness, and he shareth in our gladness." 
The hymn proves the dictum, if you can explain something to children, something abstract, that maybe even adults will be able to understand it. 
Jesus was like us in all respects, that's the meaning of "The Incarnation." "Day by day, like us he grew." Which is why he is our Savior. He knows what it is like to live our life. "He feeleth for our sadness, and he shareth in our gladness." He is like us.
Our text for this morning, this childhood scene from Jesus' life, is another example of how he was like us. He is just twelve years old when this scene takes place. Today we have what is called a prolonged adolescence. But there was no such thing in Jesus' day. You went literally from childhood into adulthood, and the bridge was called Bar Mitzvah. A boy began his apprenticeship for a trade when he was twelve years old. Girls were betrothed at adolescence, probably about the same age, and then married at fourteen or fifteen beginning their vocation in life as wives and mothers. 
Young people today think about vocations generally at the end of adolescence, at eighteen or nineteen, or maybe a little older. There are some people in middle age who are still trying to figure out what they are going to be when they grow up. 
In Jesus' time there was no such luxury. You had only one choice. In fact, it is more accurate to say you didn't have any choice. You were destined for a life according to who you were, your gender, your class. For boys, your destiny was probably to be in your father's business. 
Jesus is just twelve years old...  
___________________________
Christ in The Temple 
There is a famous oil painting called "Christ Teaching in The Temple." The painting gets it wrong. It comes from an era when religious people were still uneasy with the notion that Jesus was like the rest of us. In this picture he is standing in the midst of the elders looking very wise, obviously delivering a lecture. He is talking and pointing and they are listening. He had, no doubt, appeared to instruct them in the law, as if he knew what they didn't. But that's not what the text says. They found him, says Luke, "listening to (the teachers) and asking them questions." He was not the authority; he was the student. He was there to listen and learn. Now it is true that the religious leaders were impressed by how much he knew, and by how he answered their questions. But there is nothing in this text which indicates he was a precocious know it all. 
Adapted from When It Is Dark Enough, Charles H. Bayer, CSS Publishing Lima, Ohio.
___________________
 Truth springs from argument amongst friends. 
Scottish philosopher David Hume
__________________
Significance of Things Eternal 
Parish ministers will tell you that people come to them speaking with regrets like these:
When I was young, my mother was going to read me a story, but she had to wax the bathroom floor and there wasn't time.
When I was young, my grandparents were going to come for Christmas, but they couldn't get someone to feed the dogs and my grandfather did not like the cold weather and besides they didn't have time.
When I was young, my father was going to listen to me read my essay on "What I Want To Be When I Grow Up," but there was Monday Night Football and there wasn't time.
When I was young, my father and I were going to go hiking in the Sierras, but at the last minute he had to fertilize the lawn and there wasn't time.
When I grew up and left home to be married, I was going to sit down with Mom and Dad and tell them I love them and would miss them, but my best man was honking the horn in front of my house so there wasn't time. 
Into our hectic world, Jesus comes, and still invites us to exercise the spirit as well as the mind and the body. The best way we exercise the spirit is by giving attention to things of eternal significance, such as listening, loving, and learning from the least expected places. 
Richard A. Wing, Deep Joy for a Shallow World, CSS Publishing Company
_____________________
Humor: School Is a Part of Life 
A young woman named Donna who got good grades in high school was in her first year of college. She had done poorly on one of her courses. In an attempt to prepare her parents she wrote her mother, "If you see an unfamiliar letter on my report card, remember it's just my first initial. Signed, Donna." As the time neared for grades to be sent home, Donna began to worry. Her worst fears were confirmed one evening when her mother called her. Donna said, "Hi, Mom." Her mother replied coldly, "Hello, Frank."

School is part of life. For the Christian there are two kinds of education. There is education at school and on the job. And there is religious education about our faith. We have just celebrated Christmas. Unfortunately, we don't know much about the next few years in Jesus' life. We can imagine he lived in a home filled with love. We can imagine as a boy he worked with his father Joseph in the carpenter shop, learning a trade although Jesus' real vocation would surface in our lesson for today.

King Duncan, Collected Sermons,
www.Sermons.com
___________________________________
Growing Up Fast 
Kids grow up awfully fast these days. It seems like one minute you are trying to encourage your child to go faster on his bicycle, to get up enough speed to stay balanced, and the next you are pleading with the same boy now at the wheel of a car, pleading with him to slow down and live. One minute you're urging a shy daughter to say hello to strangers, and the very next, you're trying to discourage her from responding to strangers on the Internet.

Jesus is growing up fast too. Here we are, less than a week from Christmas, from the baby lying in a manger. Now Jesus is already an adolescent wandering off on his own. Last week Jesus was "prophecy miraculously fulfilled." This week he is questioning the teachers of that very tradition.

The classical confessions of the church hold that Jesus is "fully human, fully God," and in today's familiar story from Luke, we can see both sides. Jesus, fully human, is growing up as all mortals must. In the process, Jesus has scared his parents half to death as all teen-agers do. Jesus is asking questions, as should we all, and he is listening to learn, as all we must. And in this story, we see the twelve-year old Jesus fully divine with everyone amazed at his understanding and his answers. We hear Jesus declaring his unique relationship with God the Father as only the Son can do.
Sid Burgess, Question Time
_______________________________________
Small Things to Be Done with Great Love 
It took me a long while to hear this truth from Mother Teresa: "There are no big deals anymore, just small things to be done with great love."  
Most of this coming year will be spent in ordinary time. We enter into the season on the church calendar marked as "ordinary time." What a good prophetic note for the New Year: most of the good that will be done will be done in ordinary time, when no one is looking and no one will report it to the paper.  
Here comes the New Year, full of ordinary time. We will enter it ready to slug it out for the common good while no one is looking. In the middle of ordinary time, God comes with extraordinary moments that make all others bearable, believable, and worthwhile.  
I have always thought that while our nation works out negotiations with other countries, like with North Korea, we only see the leaders in the news. But, if the whole story were revealed, we would see nameless people on both sides of the issue tirelessly speaking to each other through the night in order to work out an agreement. Leaders sit down and sign documents that were slugged out by unknowns in the night during ordinary time.

Richard A. Wing, Deep Joy for a Shallow World, CSS Publishing
________________________________________________
Erma's New Year's Resolutions
The late Erma Bombeck made these New Year's resolutions:  
1. I'm going to clean this dump just as soon as the kids grow up.
2. I will go to no doctor whose office plants have died.
3. I'm going to follow my husband's suggestion to put a little excitement into my life by living within our budget.
4. I'm going to apply for a hardship scholarship to Weight Watchers.
5. I will never loan my car to anyone I have given birth to.
6. And just like last year...I am going to remember that my children need love the most when they deserve it the least. 
 
Erma Bombeck, Resolutions for a New Year
_________________________
I Like You 
In her best-selling book called, Traveling Mercies, Anne Lamott, who by the way is a member of a Presbyterian Church, writes about her seven-year-old son, Sam.
"At seven, he is separating from me like mad and has made it clear that I need to give him a bit more room. I'm not even allowed to tell him that I love him these days. He is quite firm on this. "You tell me you love me all the time," he explained recently, "and I don't want you to anymore."
"At all?" I said.
"I just want you to tell me that you like me."
I said I would really try. That night when I was tucking him in, I said, "Good night, honey, I really like you a lot."
There was silence in the dark. Then he said, "I like you too, Mom."" 
It's hard to be the parent of a seven-year-old, as Anne Lamott is quick to point out.
Nor is it easy to be the parent of a twelve-year-old, particularly when that twelve-year-old is none other than Jesus Christ, the Son of God. This morning's Scripture from the Gospel of Luke is the only story in the Bible about Jesus' boyhood, and what a wonderful story it is. At one level the story affirms the greatness of Jesus which was even apparent in the years of his holy adolescence. Holy adolescence - now that's an interesting concept, don't you think!

******
LITURGICAL PRAYERS: MASS (Liturgy Alive)

Penitential Act

Are we still willing to grow in our faith?
Let us examine ourselves before the Lord.
(pause)
Lord Jesus, you accepted to live
under the authority of Mary and Joseph:
Lord, have mercy. R/ Lord, have mercy.
Jesus Christ, your mother pondered in her heart
the events happening in her life:
Christ, have mercy. R/ Christ, have mercy.
Lord Jesus, with Mary and Joseph
you sought above everything
the will of the Father in heaven:
Lord, have mercy. R/ Lord, have mercy.
Lord, forgive us our sins
and our lack of understanding.
Make us mature in our faith and love.
Lead us to everlasting life. R/ Amen.

Opening Prayer

Let us pray
that the Lord Jesus may grow up in us
(pause)
God our Father,
we give you all thanks and praise
that you chose for your Son a human family.
Through the prayers and example
of Mary and Joseph,
may we too learn
to make room for Jesus in our life,
that he may grow up in us day after day
and make us more like him.
We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord. R/ Amen.

General Intercessions

With the Holy Family of Nazareth we trust in the Lord, who knows all our needs, and we ask him to bless all our human families. Let us say: R/ Lord, bless your people.
• For the family of the Church, that it may be a mother and a home for all people in need, let us pray: R/ Lord, bless your people.
• For all married couples, that they may keep the freshness of their first love or rediscover it, let us pray: R/ Lord, bless your people.
• For all the families of the world, that they may keep growing in mutual appreciation and service, let us pray: R/ Lord, bless your people.
• For children and young people, that their parents may be to them grownups concerned about their growth and happiness, let us pray: R/ Lord, bless your people.
• For separated couples and their children, that they may meet warmhearted people whose understanding helps them to overcome the failures of their home life, let us pray: R/ Lord, bless your people.
• For our Christian communities, that as members of one family we may learn to carry each other's burdens and to share each other's joys, let us pray: R/ Lord, bless your people.
Father, we trust in you. May we not deny one another all the love you show us in Jesus Christ our Lord. R/ Amen.

Prayer over the Gifts
God our Father,
you invite us to share the family table
of Jesus your Son.
May the food and drink he gives us
change us into gifts to one another,
that we may become each other's
bread and wine, life and joy.
Let serving love and respect
be our offering to one another,
today and tomorrow and every day,
on account of your Son in our midst,
Jesus Christ our Lord. R/ Amen.

 
Introduction to the Eucharistic Prayer
Today we thank our Father for having given us the Holy Family as a model of loving service for our homes. May this Eucharist make us responsive to God's love.
 
Introduction to the Lord's Prayer

United before God as his sons and daughters,
we pray the prayer taught us
by his son, Jesus of Nazareth. R/ Our Father...

Deliver Us

Deliver us Lord, from every evil
and let the peace of Christ live
in our hearts and our homes.
Keep us from all that divides us
or encloses us within ourselves.
Give us compassion, gentleness, and patience,
that we may prepare in hope and joy
the full coming among us
of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. R/ For the kingdom...

Invitation to Communion
This is Jesus the Lord,
who comes to unite us
as the sons and daughters of the Father.
Happy are we to be invited
at the family table of the Lord. R/ Lord, I am not worthy...

Prayer after Communion

God our Father,
Jesus your Son made himself near to us
in this Eucharistic celebration.
He has been here for us
approachable and available to all.
May he keep on living
in our homes and our communities.
Let him make us approachable
and available to one another,
even at the cost of personal discomfort
and, with Mary and Joseph,
ready for any task you may entrust to us.
For we can do everything
in the name of Jesus the Lord. R/ Amen.

Blessing
It was good to be together
as the family of God's people
and to pray with the Holy Family of Nazareth
for what is dear to all of us:
our homes, our families,
the Christian community,
the family of our nation and people.
May God bless you all
and keep you united:
the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. R/ Amen.
Go in the peace of the Lord. R/ Thanks be to God.