Readings: Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14; Colossians 3:12-21; Luke 2:41-52
We are in a season of feasts and I believe these celebrations unpack what the Lord’s birth means for us.
Let’s remember what Fr. Joseph preached on Christmas Day, a very important teaching to a society that loves to be affirmed and left unchallenged. The Son of God didn’t become a man just to draw closer to us. Jesus was incarnate of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit that we may be divinized. And for us to grow into God’s life is a challenge to our willfulness, our complacency, our self-absorption, our habits and choices. It is from this perspective that I am encouraged by Mary.
Son, why have you done this to us? That’s where she begins.
Hadn’t Mary been told that her child would inherit the throne of David his ancestor, and would be called Son of the Most High? Of course, she’d worry about his security. But the, as a twelve year old Jewish male, isn’t he bar mitzvah, “son of the observance”, a religious adult? He is no longer a child; he’s reminding her of that. She stops herself right there and drops the subject.
Nothing the angel told her, however, said that her son would be a sage, listening to and questioning the scholars of God’s revelation. Nothing prepared her for this. She knows enough to switch gears: his mother kept all these things in her heart. Her son the sage is a new annunciation coming, not from an angel, but through the child she bore, whom she had nursed and fed, bathed and changed. If God overturned her expectations thirteen years ago, just as things seem to settle down, she’s asked to accept more, to change more. If she doesn’t actually understand her life, in faith she continues on the path God calls her to walk.
This new episode redefines how her son will be the Messiah, what kind of kingdom will be his, though she cannot yet picture any of that. She has to take the next step simply on trust. What feels like freefall without a parachute is what it feels like to be in God’s hand. That is her divinization: her radical trust in God. All the same, Jesus went down with them to Nazareth and was obedient to them. Divinization is not a private affair but a family project, a familiar process. Isn’t that how intimately God is with us, how closely God is willing to work with us for our transfiguration?