Well we’re coming up on New Year’s Day this week which means one thing for sure: 2020 will soon be in the rear view mirror. Most years we would spend some time thinking back on the year that had passed and re-living the wonderful times we had and the friends and family we shared them with. I am sure we will do the same this year, but the challenge will be how to fill the other 23 hours and 55 minutes of the day (lol).
Today, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family and our First Reading and Gospel are filled with wonderful stories of faith and trust. Stories that we need to hear in this time of so many mixed emotions. We are excited about a vaccine that could see life return to some sort of normalcy in the new year; but, at the same time we are still anxious about keeping ourselves and our loved ones safe and possible changes in our “colour of recovery” which can effect greatly how we live our day to day lives.
This uncertainty is not unique to us living in the 21st century; it has existed since the beginning of time. In our First Reading we hear of Abram and Sarai. They left everything they knew and journeyed to a new land trusting that God would look after them. Yet, here they were in their old age and no son to call heir. As it stood, Abram’s entire estate would be going to a slave born in his house. But God had other plans; not only were Abram and Sarai provided with an heir; Abram would be the father of a “multitude of nations” and Sarai would give “rise to nations; kings of people would come from her”. God’s abundant blessing was so great that it would even involve a necessary name change. Abram, which means exalted father, would be changed to Abraham, which means father of a multitude. And Sarai, which means princess, would be changed to Sarah, which means noblewoman.
And what a journey for the Holy Family. From the “visitation” of the Angel Gabriel, to their journey to Bethlehem, where there was no room at the inn; to their fleeing to Egypt to escape Herod’s “massacre of the infants” (Matthew 2:16-18); to the journey to the Temple in Jerusalem that we hear about in today’s Gospel. What incredible faith displayed by Mary and Joseph to go where God was calling them. I am sure that there were points in the journey where they must have had some doubts creep in. Yet, in this final part of the infancy narrative that we hear today, they are greeted with words of reassurance from Simeon and Anna, two elderly people of God. They are told that this child of theirs is indeed the One promised for the redemption of Jerusalem. Our theme this week seems to be a carryover from Advent. Be patient. Trust that God is still in charge. This doesn’t mean that all will go as we would like and that there will never be bumps in the road. Because if we have learned anything in the last year, it’s that there are indeed bumps in the road. For Abraham and Sarah, the holy family of the Hebrew Scriptures, and for Joseph, Mary and Jesus, the journey was filled with unexpected twists and turns, anxiety, worry, etc. In the face of this uncertainty, they provided for us a template for today. Do what is asked of you; control what you can control (which isn’t much) and leave the rest for God. The old saying “let go and let God” has never seemed more appropriate.