by Sr. Jamie T. Phelps, OP

Genesis 15:1-6; 21:1-3 | Hebrews 11:8, 11-12, 17-19 | Luke 2:22-40
(There is a choice in readings today. Click on the readings link to see additional options for this feat day.)

“By faith…” (Hebrews 11, beginning of verses 8, 11, and 17)

Faith, not fear, should rule the lives of Christians. Most of the evil perpetrated by individuals and nations finds it roots in fear. Yet the history of God’s relationship with Israel repeatedly demonstrates that faith conquers all. Abraham listened to God’s counsel and lived a fruitful life of faith rather than an isolating, limiting life of fear.

Mary and Joseph belonged to an extended family of faith. Faithful to the tradition and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Mary and Joseph took Jesus to consecrate him to God. Simeon, filled with the Holy Spirit, using the eyes of faith, recognized Jesus as the Promised One who would be “a light of salvation to the Gentiles and glory for [the] people of Israel” (Isaiah 2:32). Anna, a faithful widow and elder who never left the temple, also saw with the eyes of faith and “gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting faithfully for the redemption of Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:38).

Strengthened by the witness of these members of their extended faith family, Mary and Joseph returned to Nazareth where they fulfilled their parental duties of raising Jesus in accord with their faith tradition. “[Jesus] grew and became strong, filled with wisdom’ and the favor of God was upon him” (Luke 2:40).

God our Father and our Mother, help our church community become an extended family of faith that nourishes and supports the family life of our members. Help us to minister to all who come to us in search of Jesus. Let children, young adults, middle-ages, and old men and women of every nation find you as we celebrate and are transformed by your sacraments into the Family of God. 

*This reflection is from Pax Christi USA’s Advent reflection booklet, Be Watchful and Alert — Seek God’s Spirit in Our World: Reflections for Advent 2008, by Sr. Jamie T. Phelps, OP, Ph.D.

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