In addition to celebrating one of the greatest mysteries of our faith on December 25th, we have celebrated the Feast of St. Stephen on the 26th and now today we celebrate the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
I went to the Holy Land during seminary. To be completely honest I am not the biggest of travelers. I enjoy staying in MN, spending time with my own family, and doing what MN offers: hunting and fishing. Looking back of course I am very grateful for the gift of being able to experience the places Jesus walked, especially Jerusalem. As I was preparing for the trip I told people close to me that I would be going to many places that correspond to events in the New Testament, and I asked where they would like me to pray for them. For whatever reason, of all the places he could choose (you know, like anything with Jesus), my younger brother Joe asked if I would pray for him where St. Stephen was stoned to death. I don’t really fully know why a 12 year old would ask this, but I do know that there is a place just outside Jerusalem where St. Stephen gave his life because he would rather die than compromise his faith in Jesus Christ. There is something that drew my younger brother to this fact and there is something that also causes me to pause: To give my whole life for someone is a faith that I want! One of the most challenging messages I have received was from a sermon by St. John Henry Cardinal Newman called “Ventures of Faith.” In this sermon (which by the way is longer than my homilies,
…. Not sure about Deacon Joe’s -insert winky face-) he asks: Have you ever really risked anything based completely on the truth of Christ’s life? Immediately I would like to say ‘yes,’ as of course many of us would like to. I am a priest, you are faithful christians, etc. Perhaps a more immediate portrayal of this question is: Today what have you risked or ventured because of the fact of Jesus Christ?
As we consider the event of Jesus Christ; how Mary and Joseph responded to him, and how St. Stephen responded to him, we ask for a faith that has risked something- everything. We ask for a faith that enables us to give ourselves to him today!