December 31, 2023
Today the Church celebrates the Holy Family, Luke 2:22-40.
But in the Gospel of St. Matthew, (12:48-50), Jesus asks “Who Is my mother?” Who Are my brothers?” This suggest a more diverse, equitable and inclusive understanding of the “Holy Family” of Jesus.
January 1st, 1863 the Emancipation was proclaimed for millions of enslaved ….Americans?
Now, therefore I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested as Commander-in-Chief, of the Army and Navy of the United States in time of actual armed rebellion against the authority and government of the United States, and as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion, do, on this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and in accordance with my purpose, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.
Those states in rebellion against the United States, were: Arkansas, Texas, parts of Louisiana Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and parts of Virginia.
Who are my mother and brothers? Jesus responds indicating his disciples, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!” (Matthew 12:48-50).
Celebrating the Holy Family is not a celebration of the American nuclear family only. It is also a celebration and recognition that, “anyone who does the will of [the heavenly Father of Jesus], is brother, sister and mother in the holy family of Jesus.
In the Gospel of St. Luke, we are told that Joe and Maria fulfilled all the “prescriptions of the Law of the Lord.” In other words, they did the will of God the Father.
Jews, Christians and Muslims are sons and daughters of the same father in Faith. That father in faith is Abraham. “It was by faith that Abraham [and Sarah] received power to generate and there came forth from Abraham descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sands on the seashore.” Those descendants are Jews, Christians and Muslims. And those descendants seem determined to exterminate each other.
In 1863 brothers and fellow Christians fought and killed each other by the thousands to tear apart the United States. Jesus asks: Who is my mother? Who are my sisters and brothers?
Maria, a Jew, became the Mother of God because she did the will of God and “glorification is the last step of salvation.”
Joe, a working-class man, did the will of God, he did not divorce Maria. He raised Jesus as his step-son. “Glorification is the last step of salvation!”
The United States -a democracy- will Catholics be mother and sister, brother and neighbor to Jesus?
By faith, each of us this new year will be put to the test.
Glorification leads to salvation and salvation is emancipation.