A Compassionate and Merciful Savior

12-31-2017Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Gregory B. Wilson, VF

Because the Celebrations of Christmas and New Year's are both on Monday, the Sunday scheduling and celebration of various feasts are off kilter. The Liturgical Calendar was drawn up and based on ideal time and space. We all know that the placing of Feasts and Holy days is meant to inspire in us to hopes and dreams as people of faith who celebrate the great moments of God-with-us each year. As hardy New Englanders, we roll with what we get. The weather for the last two weeks in particular has made us remember that life is adjusting and accepting the reality of time and space. At this point we bundle up on certain days, we watch where we walk because of ice and we keep going in life.

Thus this is the long weekend where we celebrate on Saturday-Sunday the Feast of the Holy Family and on Monday we celebrate the Feast of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. Indeed many of us remember that January first also had other feast names and celebrations in recent times past; it was a day that was in search of a Feast in a certain sense. Note this year, by the decision of the National Conference of Bishops, this Monday is not a Holy day of Obligation.

When we look at TV, leaf through magazines, look at Facebook or other social media, drive or walk by store fronts, we see absolutely beautiful presentations and displays that reflect perfection. The Hallmark Channel's many beautiful and wonderful Christmas movies really drive home this issue of the perfection of Christmas and especially of people and families. The snow in every picture always is perfectly white, properly tingeing the branches of the evergreens and neatly shoveled from sidewalks. People are beautifully dressed.

But for most of us, our Christmas season is not the storybook version on TV, or found in magazines, or seen in various pictures on the internet. Our Christmas is not perfect at all. We have family, friends and pets in our lives, real ones! We may dream of that perfect Christmas, but in fact we reflect much more the Christmas we hear about in the Gospels. Remember Mary and Joseph did not stay in a five star resort. The Gospel story is not about perfection; instead it is the beginning of the story of our compassionate and merciful Savior. Perhaps we are called not to be perfect, but instead to be compassionate and merciful. In this passage of Luke's we discover how Mary and Joseph wanted to be good parents and thus carry out faithfully the responsibilities of their religion. They go to the temple as required. They meet saintly Anna and Simeon. We know Anna and Simeon were given the hard job of prophecy. It was, however, near impossible for these new parents to fathom what Anna and Simeon meant and thus they went back home with the baby Jesus. They then loved and nurtured Jesus as parents do. They could care for him for they were a loving family. We hope that family members do what they do for the love of the doing. Family life is beautiful, but not always easy. We learn that in other stories about Jesus and his parents. The season of Christmas does remind us of this enduring gift of family and also friends. Hopefully we learn the lesson early in life and without much hurt that neither family nor friends are perfect, and also that neither are we. Much like the Holy Family we must struggle along at times in our relationships, but we must always remember that it is love that motivates and supports us.

To one and all: a Blessed and Happy New Year!

Father Brian