In May 1977, movie goers packed the lines to capture the first explosion of Star Wars Episode 4. To retrace our steps, it was a story of how Luke Skywalker and Han Solo, captain of the Millennium Falcon, worked together to free the beautiful princess Leia from the grip of the cruel Darth Vader. Throughout the original trilogy, the story unravels as Luke discovers Princess Leia is really his sister and by Episode 6, the famous immortalized line of all the episodes, Darth Vader reveals to Luke, “I am your father.” To which Luke scream out in utter rejection. All throughout the development of the newest trilogy which began in 1999, we see the unfolding of good and evil and how Anakin Skywalker ultimately chose evil and became Darth Vader.
We don’t have to be Star Wars fanatics to realize the family drama wrapped into such a popular movie legacy. Society is glued to this concept as many internet sites predict a gross of 1 billion dollars world wide for the Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the newest edition to this Legacy brought to us by Disney.
When we step back from sci-fi fantasy, we realize that we all come from unique situations: imperfect, broken, complicated, messy households. Perhaps that’s why the Star Wars story rings to our ears in American culture. Keeping this in mind, we shouldn’t strive for perfect families, we should strive to perceive the wonder of being Holy Families.
In the First Reading, we hear of the barren woman, Hannah, who was married to Elkanah. Throughout the scriptures, a woman who could not conceive a child was considered unfavored by God. Hannah remained in her persistence to God, willing to give her first born son to God. God gave Hannah a son and she named him Samuel. She returned home perceiving the wonder of how God can do the impossible!
In the Gospel, Mary and Joseph lost Jesus for three days. One can only imagine the psychological torment they must have underwent during those days looking for their son. On the third day, they found him in the temple not because he was disobedient, but because he was the Son of God, completely obedient to the Father by staying in the temple. As they made their way back home to Nazareth, Mary perceived the wonder as she pondered these things in her heart. Mary’s faith was maturing in the silent depths of her humble heart. The Holy Family returned to Nazareth and it is there that Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man. Mary and Joseph realized that what made the family holy was living their lives directed toward God’s will.
In the midst of the Christmas Season, we must perceive the wonder. Perceive the wonder that many babies throughout history became King, but only one was King who became baby. God comes in his gentleness as a baby, will we find him? God comes to us in poverty, will we serve him in the poor? God comes to us through a family. We are striving like Hannah to dedicate our children to God. We are striving to be like the Holy Family who directed their whole lives to God’s will. We are striving to worship in God’s temple, to behold his glory until we stand before him in eternity.
God is here in our midst and he wants us! Keep in mind the Letter to John in which we heard, “Beloved: See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God.” No matter how old we get, no matter how many degrees we have earned, no matter if we have failed or have succeeded, everyone always remains a child of God because it is only through tender eyes, open hearts, will we ever truly know the King. No one comes to God alone, we come as a family, broken yet shared. No wonder the Lord remains with us in the appearance of bread and wine, so that when we meet him, we gather as family around the table of sacrifice and praise. We are all returning home to perceive the wonder. You see, the Incarnation Event, personally involves us, personally changes us, personally moves us to make a difference in the world, personally moves us to live as holy families, so that when we go home, we perceive the wonder of God’s nearness to us.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said, “God has done everything; he has done the impossible: he was made flesh. His all-powerful love has accomplished something which surpasses all human understanding: the Infinite has become a child, has entered the human family. And yet, this same God cannot enter my heart unless I open the door to him.”
We turn now to Eucharist, so that we can once again, in a new way, rediscover the closeness of God in our fragile, messy, and broken lives. He makes it new.