For the 5th Day within the Octave of the Nativity of the Lord, 12-29-22, Year A
Readings: First Reading 1 Jn 2:3-11; Ps 96:1-2a,2b-3,5b-6; Gospel Lk 2:22-35
Option Memorial: St. Thomas Becket, Bishop & Martyr
Theme: Obedience and Humility
When I was a kid, and we would play outside with our friends, the town whistle would blow at 5:00 pm signaling the start of evening time. That was our queue to head home for supper. If we ignored it and stayed out, our parents would stand on the porch and yell out our names to come home. If we ignored that, well, you know, there would be heck to pay, and we quickly understood the meaning of obedience.
Sometimes a friend who really did not care much about the timing for dinner, would convince us that we would be ok not to go home right away. So, we stayed and played a little longer. When we finally did go home, we realized that our friend’s way was not the way of our father’s and we found ourselves without any dinner, grounded, doing extra chores, or not being allowed to watch TV. We would do our penance and finally ask for forgiveness and be allowed back to the table the next day.
There was a reason why the five o’clock whistle was the time to come home. Our mother had been preparing dinner for the last hour and it would be ready to serve shortly. We had to be home in time to clean up, help set the table, and be in our chairs so that when dinner was served, it was hot and we all were there ready to say Grace.
To not show up when we were supposed to, meant disrespect for our mother’s time to prepare the meal, cause our father’s anguish over not having a hot meal, and the bane of our siblings who had to do our part of the preparation. All in all, the lack of respect for the work of others because of our lack of obedience was hurtful to them and caused them to suffer.
Today’s readings are about just that kind of thing, obedience, and humility for God’s will. There are reasons why certain things are the way they are.
St. John talks about following Christ’s command to love our neighbor. Yet, if someone says they know Christ and say they follow Him, but hates his neighbor, he is a liar and is disobedient. How many things today do we believe in that are contrary to Christ’s teaching and yet we still say we follow Him? These are the times when we need to check our pride and become more humble.
In Luke’s Gospel passage we hear about obedience in following the Jewish law of purifying oneself before entering the temple and presenting a newborn child. Mary and Joseph were pure already, yet they followed the customary Jewish law in obedience and purified themselves for the prescribed seven days after the birth of Jesus. On the eighth day, they brought Jesus and the prescribed sacrifices to the temple for His presentation and circumcision as was the law.
Christ shedding His blood in circumcision was not for any sin of His but to atone for the sin of the rest of us human beings. By being obedient to the law, Jesus works His redemption for the rest of us. Mary’s purification from the uncleanliness of childbirth was purely ceremonial and not moral. Like Christ, through her obedience in following the customary laws, she is joined as one with all womankind in giving birth to her child.
Both Mary and Joseph accepted with obedience and humility the words of Simeon, knowing the tough times ahead for them and their Son.
God has set a plan in place for humanity to follow. He taught us His laws and statutes and showed us the way to holiness through love. He even inspired people to write it all down just so we would not forget. We have a rule book, and it is up to us to follow it. If we believe that God is our Father, then we should treat him as such and follow His teachings with obedience and humility. We can be punished for disrespecting His will causing hurt and anguish, which separates us from Him. We are then stuck with the pain of our sin until we do the penance we need to, then ask for His forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation to repair our relationship.
There is a reason why God’s will is to be followed and obeyed. That reason is respect for Him as our creator and for everlasting life with Him in a never-ending love that binds us all together in heaven.
When the whistle of Mass blows, remember that is the time to head home to God and His love to faithfully do His will by returning His love through our obedience and securing our salvation.