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The Power of Forgiveness, Journey of Faith

The Power of Forgiveness, Journey of Faith

“I give you a new commandment, says the Lord; love one another as I have loved you.” John 13:34

Today’s Gospel is a tall order.  Love your enemies, turn the other cheek, and if someone takes your cloak, give them your tunic as well.

Reminds me of John Lennon’s utopian—and boundaries-free—“Imagine”…   “imagine all the people living’ life in peace… nothing to kill or die for…. And no religion, too.”

No religion.  Really?

My “Imagine” goes this way:  Imagine a world in which we practice Jesus’ religion of compassion and contradict (even flagrantly violate) our more predictable codes of behavior.  Here’s an example:  You’re sitting in the parking lot with your brand new car.  Haven’t even made the first payment on it yet.  Then someone drives up and parks right next to you, opens the door with brio, and puts a nice dent in your shiny new vehicle.  Eyes meet.  What do you do?

Imagine the most ridiculously generous and totally unexpected thing you could do for the door slammer.  Imagine what you would want someone to do to you if you were the offending party.  Searching for clues, I think of Luke 6:36:  “Be merciful just as your Father is merciful.”  Does that mean being a pushover or someone who is robotically compassionate?  I don’t think so, even though I myself have to deal at times with typical “first reactions” that I wouldn’t want broadcast anywhere.

Friend, the Kingdom of God arrives on planet earth when we contradict our normal and maybe even fair-minded ways.  I believe that what motivates us to rethink the thorns of life has something to do with wanting to be a better person—God-like if you will—and becoming worthy of salvation in Christ.  His promise after all—“Forgive and you will be forgiven”—is a really good place to start.  Let me know how you do.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Father ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Lance Nadeau, M.M.

 

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Lord Jesus, from the cross

You asked the Father to forgive those

who hated You and wanted You dead.

Help me follow Your example

and fulfill Your commandment

especially when I lack the will or

desire to forgive those who harm me

or wish me ill.

Help me to at least imitate You

by praying for my enemies when

I lack the desire to forgive them myself.

Remind me of my own faults and failings

when I too stood in need of forgiveness

and help me surrender all thoughts

of resentment and vengeance

to make room in my mind and heart

for Your most amazing grace.

I stand before Your most glorious

throne of Mercy and fervently pray

for all who have wronged me

that I might be free from all unhealthy

thoughts of getting even or paying back.

I commend my wounded past to Your

healing presence and merciful heart

that with Your saints, I too might one day

enjoy the company of the saints In the light of Christ forever.

Amen.

Prayer by Father Joe Veneroso, M.M.

The Cost of Discipleship, Journey of Faith

The Cost of Discipleship, Journey of Faith

“Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is the Lord.” Jeremiah 17:7

Easy to find solace in today’s Gospel, the Sermon on the Mount.  Jesus addresses a great crowd with words we call the eight Beatitudes, virtues sure to transform and bless us on our journey home to God.  Harder to understand is the cost of virtue that the Beatitudes imply.

The fourth and climactic pair of blessings provides a clue.  Jesus says, “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man.  Rejoice and leap for joy on that day!  Behold, your reward will be great in heaven.”

Frightening?  Yes, definitely.  Jesus is saying there is a cost to discipleship and we must be prepared for rejection, even suffering.  But the cost will insure us salvation and the gift of eternal life.  Here’s a modern-day story that makes my point…

While serving in Kenya, I came to know a highly successful Catholic couple that was having difficulty conceiving a child.  This was a looming tragedy because in Africa many communities believe that the primary purpose of marriage is children.  For them, a relationship without children is not a marriage.  Eventually, the husband’s family began to pressure the young man to either divorce his wife or take a second wife.

Despite the pain this caused, the couple refused.  They were committed to the indissolubility and exclusivity of their marriage.  After praying for guidance, they made the decision to adopt two babies who had been abandoned at the gate of a Catholic children’s home.  The husband’s family opposed the adoption.  But no amount of pressure worked.  The couple stayed true to their marriage covenant and began raising the children they longed for.  Their cost of discipleship was great—but so was their reward.

Freind, staying true to our faith is a journey.  We understand the challenges, but we have the strength of God’s grace, we have each other, and we have the promise that one day we will be in Christ’s presence for all time.  May that be all you need in this world to celebrate the promise of eternal life in the next.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Father ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Lance Nadeau, M.M.

Prayer for the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Give me, O God, strength to do Your will,

courage to say yes to You, perseverance to stay the course,

and patience with myself and others when I face

disappointments, setbacks and failure.

I believe You remain with me, Lord,

no less in my weakness than in my strength

and You give me daily grace to do Your will

and follow Your way in the world.

May I have the humble desire to welcome

all You send me to help me follow You.

Grant that I might accept Your will

even when it differs from my own

and never let despair overshadow

my faith in You, who daily call me

to pick up my cross and follow.

Amen

Prayer by Father Joe Veneroso, M.M.

The Gift of Purpose, Journey of Faith

The Gift of Purpose, Journey of Faith

“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been ineffective.” 1 Corinthian 15:10

I think of today’s readings as a gift.  Rarely do all three scriptures have a unifying theme, but this Sunday they do, perhaps a gift for the preacher—meaning me.  But I think a gift for all of us seeking direction in life.  And that is what I call the Gift of Purpose.

Each reading tells us about someone finding purpose through some action of God… people as different from each other as Isaiah is from Peter and Peter from Paul.  And I from you.  What we learn today is that God’s action in our lives does not have to be dramatic or extraordinary, although it can be.  After all, Isaiah prophesied the coming of the Messiah.  But let’s remember, Peter was a fisherman and Paul was a kind of policeman of his day.  Neither was on retreat or deep in prayer while fasting when they heard the voice of God.  They were just at work doing the things that society expected of them.  The way you and I do.

Today’s readings remind us that the Gift of Purpose in our lives is not only unpredictable but it’s also unmerited.  Nothing indicates that Isaiah, Peter or Paul are called because of their character, skill set, or potential as missioners.  They are called just because God had a plan and only these individuals could fulfill it.

Something else about the Gift of Purpose that we learn today:  Peter was called to become the fisher of men and women; and Paul was called to evangelize Jews and Gentiles alike.  Which tells me that God’s Gift of Purpose directs us away from ourselves in radical service to others.  It enables us to find the extraordinary in the ordinary, and life lessons in everyday events.

One Gift of Purpose I will never forget came to me from a man I knew in Kenya who was dying of cancer.  “Cheerful” was not a word I took seriously before I met him, but I changed my attitude when he told me that despite his illness he had set a goal for himself to be cheerful.  He used the word often during our visits.  That’s when God’s message came to me loud and clear:  What we choose to do with our circumstance—whatever form that may take—can have an enormous impact on other people.  I was not only humbled by his example, but I realized how much work was left for me to do before I could match his gift-giving.

Friend, no need to abandon the normal routine of daily life to fulfill your calling.  I’m just inviting you to find the extraordinary in the ordinary, to find the wings of an angel hiding somewhere in a corner, and even to be an example of the Gift of Purpose that God intended for you.  Why not go searching and surprise yourself?

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Father ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Lance Nadeau, M.M.

Prayer for 1st Sunday

Come to me, Lord, in everyday things:

in meals to be prepared and enjoyed,

in dishes to be washed and dried,

in laundry to be done, floors swept clean,

furniture dusted and beds to be made.

You, in whom all things live and move

and have their being, help me to seek and find

You no less in the common place than in

lofty Cathedrals and awesome sunsets.

You, who sanctified all of our lives

by Your becoming human through Mary,

bless the minutes and hours of each day,

that I might know Your wisdom and will

guiding me ever gently by Your grace.

Fill my life with purpose and meaning

that not a single moment is ever wasted

but each thought, word and action by me

this day might redound to Your eternal glory.

Prayer by Father Joe Veneroso, M.M.

Resurrection Hope, Interview with Kelly Brown Douglas

Resurrection Hope, Interview with Kelly Brown Douglas

“How do we really know that God cares when Black people are still getting killed? How long do we have to wait for the justice of God? I get it, that Christ is Black, but that doesn’t seem to be helping us right now.”

These questions from her son prompted theologian Kelly Brown Douglas to undertake this soul-searching reflection. The killing of George Floyd and the ongoing litany of Black victims raised questions about the persistence of white supremacy in this nation, leading her to reflect on how a “white way of knowing” has come to dominate American identity and even to shape the consciousness of Christians.

In exploring the message of Confederate monuments and the “Make America Great Again” slogan, she examines the failures of even “good white Christians” and struggles with the hope that “Black Lives Matter,” before reaching deep into her own experience and the faith of Black folks to find her way back to Resurrection Hope.

Take up The Challenge, Journey of Faith

Take up The Challenge, Journey of Faith

“If I speak in human and angelic tongues, but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.”   1 Corinthians 13:1

Charity begins at home.  At least that’s what the Nazarenes thought about the doings of their favorite son.  They wanted Jesus to work a few miracles in their own backyard—and maybe send a message to their enemies to boot.

Knowing human nature as he did, Our Lord was ready for the challenge. “Physician, cure yourself” is doubtless the proverb he expected to hear—and he did.  His neighbors and relatives wanted him to do the things they heard he had done in Capernaum.

That demand did not go over well.  Jesus admonished the crowd, suggesting that they take up the challenge to cure themselves instead.  What he meant was care for one another… place your own needs and concerns after the stranger’s and those who are suffering.  To make matters worse, Jesus specifically referred to God’s kindness toward Israel’s enemies:  the widow from Zarephath, and Naaman the commending general of Aram’s armies.  That was too much for the Nazarenes to hear.  They drove Jesus out of town with the intention of actually killing him.

Now enter the words of St. Paul.  “Love is patient, love is kind… love never fails.”  You know the rest.   

Friend, the people of Nazareth had lost their capacity for caring.  They wanted to shrink God down in size to conform with their own needs and self-centered expectations.  You could say they wanted a God as small as they were.  Our challenge

is to achieve the exact opposite… to serve as Christ did, to bring healing wherever we can and without exception—and to understand that the expansiveness of God’s love can never be contained.

That’s the gift of a God who is bigger than us, and who wants us to know we can be bigger than ourselves, too.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Father ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Lance Nadeau, M.M.

4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Your love, like Your mercy,

lasts from age to age, O Lord.

In Your infinite mercy cast from my heart

all that is not motivated by love:

love of family, love of neighbor,

love of enemy, love of self,

all of which are different ways of loving You.

Walk by my side when I am weary,

be my guide when I am lost.

Shelter me when I am afraid

and catch me if I should fall

that I, in turn, may accompany,

guide, guard and support

others in the same way.

All creation gives You praise

and reflects Your glory, O Lord,

the galaxies no less than the flowers,

the sunset no less than the butterflies

but all pale in comparison to Your love

reflected in those who forgive each other

In Your holy Name.

Amen.

Prayer by Father Joe Veneroso, M.M.

The Sanctity of Human Life, Journey of Faith

The Sanctity of Human Life, Journey of Faith

Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing. Luke 4:21

Jesus, as we know, was a very great teacher and preacher.  During his public years, he attracted crowds throughout Galilee as he taught in synagogues throughout the land. The crowds, St. Luke tells us, celebrated his message, not just his preaching skills.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is in his hometown, Nazareth, where he joins the elders of the community as a scripture reader at the Sabbath service. A fellow worshipper gives Jesus a scroll of readings drawn from Isaiah and the words are prescient.  In sum, the message goes something like this:  “The spirit of the Lord is upon me.  I have been appointed to bring good news to the poor.  I have been sent to release the prisoners, to recover the sight of the blind, to comfort those broken into pieces, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”

Jesus then sits down, the position of the teacher in those days, and says, “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”  When do you think “today” is?  Two thousand years ago?  The day we made our Confirmation?  Or maybe he means Sunday, January 23, which also happens to be National Sanctity of Human Life Day.  Fellow missioners, I think it’s all of the above.  But today is the day that counts the most.

Imbued with the Spirit, Jesus always focused His preaching on the most vulnerable—the needy, and the oppressed—and on the compromised, those of us who cannot see a sister or a brother in a stranger, or in someone whose life has been shattered. 

This is my “today” story:  When I served as university chaplain in Kenya, some of the most vulnerable people I met were pregnant students.  Often times the father disappeared.  Then the woman’s family, who had invested so much in the education of their daughter, often pressured her to abort.  On top of that, the university had a policy of no pregnant women in the dorms.  When you are faced abandonment, pressure from your parents, and the possibility of giving up your education altogether, abortion begins to look like a solution.

In all my mission years, I have never found a scientific, philosophical, or even religious argument that helped these students.  When you are lonely, desperate, and impoverished, you do desperate things.  But I do know what can work.  Supporting a pregnant woman with rent, pre-natal care, food, and baby clothes will help a shattered woman to choose life.  That’s what our university parish did in Kenya.  And we were blessed to welcome dozens of newborns into our community.

Friend, the Holy Spirit didn’t just give direction or purpose to Jesus’ life.  We are the recipients of God’s grace, too.  How we choose to use it is the question for today—and all our tomorrows.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Father ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Lance Nadeau, M.M.

 

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Lord God, author of life,

help us to help all women

love, cherish and protect their children.

May we make our world a place of safety

where all babies are wanted, sheltered,

nourished and educated as befits

a precious child made in the image

and likeness of God.

Rid our land of violence, O Lord,

help us raise our neighbors from poverty

and teach us to restore the Earth, our common home,

to the goodness and beauty in which You first created it.

Lord, forgive our ignorance and replace it with Your wisdom.

Heal our indifference and replace it

with Your loving kindness.

Spread the light of Your truth

to all who still sit in darkness and

the shadow of death.

Fill our hearts to overflowing

with the joy of knowing Your mercy

is not diminished nor Your grace

lessened by our sharing Your blessings

with everyone we meet.

Amen.

Prayer by Father Joe Veneroso, M.M.

Totally Forgettable Wedding Feast, Journey of Faith

Totally Forgettable Wedding Feast, Journey of Faith

“They have no wine.”   John 2:3

In Africa, weddings re crucial, fateful, far-reaching, revelatory social events.  They are not merely joyful private, personal celebrations, but momentous cosmic communal actions.  A marriage binds together the visible and invisible worlds: the extended families or clans of the bride and groom, all their clan ancestors, the invisible living dead, and the yet-to-be-born awaiting entrance into the visible world. 

Weddings are also predictive events.  Nothing should go wrong during such a pivotal social affair.  Everything needs to go right: plenty of happy people, plenty of food, plenty of dancing, plenty of noise.  Lavishness, a sign of abundant babies to come, is critical.  If something goes wrong, it is more than a regrettable blunder.  It is a distressing sign of impending evils. 

Ancient Galilee, it turns out, had much in common with contemporary Africa.  Things and signs should go just right at a wedding. That’s why I empathize with Mary.  The family is at a wedding feast at Cana when she notices that something has gone catastrophically wrong.  Filled with dread, Mary tells her son, “They have no wine.” 

That’s not a good sign, and here’s why.  More than an inconvenience or an embarrassment, this is a social disgrace.  No one runs out of wine at a wedding.  The families of the bride and groom would endure this shame for generations to come.  In fact, given the superstitions of the day, the unlucky bride and groom would become pariahs to be avoided at all costs. So, Mary’s concern for the well-being of her hosts—their reputation—is almost palpable.

And what does Mary’s son say in the midst of this looming social calamity?  Jesus answers his anxious mother this way, “Woman, how does your concern affect me?”  See what I mean about feeling for Mary?

Of course, we tend to forget that because we know that Jesus did perform a miracle that day, one that left the guests remarking that the best wine had been saved for last.  But I ask myself, why did he wind up showing such compassion for the partygoers of this tiny, insignificant, microscopic and totally forgettable wedding feast at Cana?  What is the meaning of this caring act for a seemingly inconsequential event in the life of our universe?   

Friend, one of the most revelatory mission stories I ever heard came from a Maryknoll brother I knew who served in China as a teacher of university students.  One day on the way to class, he stopped to bend down over a puddle of water to save earthworms from drowning.   A few of his students had witnessed the rescue and mocked him when he arrived in class.  Without missing a beat, he asked them to put themselves in the worm’s place.  With that some of the students began to weep.

Now that’s a transformation as good as water into wine. 

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Father ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Lance Nadeau, M.M.

 

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

O Mary, at the wedding feast in Cana

you showed a mother’s concern

for the bride and groom and

their future happiness.

You interceded on their behalf

with your son knowing that his hour

had not yet come.

Your message to us today is the same

as to those servants in Cana:

“Do whatever he tell you.”

May we too obey your wish and become

obedient to your son

The Word Made Flesh.

O Jesus, change our daily lives

into the wine of happiness and peace

that comes to those who put their faith in You.

Teach us to give and not count the cost

to love and not recall the wounds

to serve and not mind the sacrifice

till all are welcomed to Your wedding

feast in heaven.

Amen.

Prayer by Father Joe Veneroso, M.M.

Worthy Servants, Journey of Faith

Worthy Servants, Journey of Faith

“I, the Lord, have called you for the victory of justice; I have grasped you by the hand.” Isaiah 42:6

Sometimes, when I read Scripture, the meaning is crystal clear. Other times, I find myself asking questions. This week’s Gospel has prompted me to do that once again.

We know from our readings that Jesus is the Lord’s chosen one, the one on whom God’s favor resets.  And the one who humbly asked his cousin John to baptize him.  But who is he really?  Could he really be they, not an individual but a group?

Christians rightly identify Jesus as the servant, the beloved Son who pleases God and on whom the Holy Spirit descends.  But he is not the only servant, the only beloved, the only pleasing one on whom the Spirit rests.  Every baptized person is a servant. I find the identity of the servant enigmatic, if not outright mysterious.

The identity of the servant may be a mystery but the servant’s mission is easily understood.  In describing the Lord’s calling of his people, Isaiah refers to tsedeqah.  Translated from the ancient Hebrew, we moderns might call this idea “distributive justice”—a practice that supports the well-being of all people through fair access to wealth, work, healthcare, and housing as well as the care of God’s creation.  If ever there was a time to practice justice… today’s the day.

Accepting our baptismal call to serve—even when doing what’s right seems futile or worse still, hopeless—is how the Holy Spirit rests upon us.  You may have your own extraordinary examples of God’s healing grace.  Here’s mine:  I served in Kenya during years of violence and political turmoil.  Families lost their homes and some lost their lives.  That’s when I met a mother who found refuge—yet again—in a displaced persons camp.  She told me she was resigned that nothing would ever change for her or her kids because nothing ever did.  But then she did something unforgettable.  When another displaced mother arrived in camp with her children, she invited them all to share her small tent.  And I do mean small.  Somehow they made room and shared what they could. 

Isaiah tells us the Lord wields his servant like a tool for mishpat, right rather than naked might.  But how is the servant to bring this justice to the earth?  Unobtrusively, compassionately: “Not crying out, not shouting, not making his voice heard in the street. A bruised reed he shall not break, and a smoldering wick he shall not quench” Isaiah 42:2-3).  You will hardly know anything is happening, but the Lord will wield his instrument of justice, the servant, resolutely, steadfast. I have never experienced Isaiah’s tsedeqah in quite the same way after what I saw in that Kenyan camp.

Friend, we may not fully understand God but there is nothing mysterious about being the servant who brings justice to earth.  We can be Christ-like and worthy servants just by becoming an instrument of tsedeqah. And by trusting that the transformation of the world will come, sometimes in ways that we rarely know or can appreciate even in the unobtrusive compassion and mishpat of our baptized lives. 

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Father ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Lance Nadeau, M.M.

Baptism of the Lord

All honor, glory and praise

to You Lord Jesus Christ

who took on our humanness,

living like us, dying for us,

rising with us that we might

live and die and rise with You.

O Son of God, may we be true

to our calling to be children of

Our Father in heaven.

Grant that we too might serve

as You served and love

as You loved and forgive

as You forgave.

Renew in our hearts our baptismal vows

to become brothers and sisters

to one another even as we are to Christ

and to continue his mission

to bring justice to the oppressed,

food to the hungry,

shelter for the homeless,

and God’s peace and love to all.

Amen.

Prayer by Father Joe Veneroso, M.M.

Always Welcome, Never Ungenerous, Journey of Faith

Always Welcome, Never Ungenerous, Journey of Faith

“And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.” Matthew 2:9

Occasionally unexpected.  Always welcome.  And never ungenerous.  That’s how I think of God’s presence in my life.

Epiphany means revealing and over the years I have experienced more than a few personal Epiphanies. I imagine you may have, too.  Today’s feast day is another reminder of how God’s grace has permeated—and enriched—our lives.  At one time or another, we have all experienced acts of kindness, courage, and personal piety.  I think of these gifts as the new gold, frankincense and myrrh—blessings revealed as blessings from God.

In the spirit of the day, let me share a few of my revelatory experiences.  I grew up in a white ethnic American Catholic family. I was an altar boy and attended a Catholic elementary school. I even attended a Catholic college! I see myself as Catholic through and through.

But over the years three other religious traditions have shaped me deeply.  During my high school years I attended shul (that’s Yiddish for synagogue) with my Jewish friends.  Their observance of the Torah impressed me deeply.  Later, as a missioner in Egypt, I experienced the piety of my Muslim friends. The rhythm of Islamic observances–daily prayers, fasting during Ramadan, and zakat, their obligatory acts of charity for the poor—moved me.

During my years working as a missioner in Kenya and Tanzania, traditional African religions impacted me in yet another way.  I began to absorb a worldview unlike anything I had experienced before.  In Africa, people see themselves as members of a community formed by their ancestors—going all the way back to the very first human who walked on African soil—and by those yet-to-be-born.

All these revelations–a series of Epiphanies that expanded my appreciation for other religions—deepened my own Catholic faith.  I learned that God’s presence can come unexpectedly from anyone and anywhere—at any time—if we are open to receiving it.

In today’s Gospel we see that Herod was fearful of the Magi’s mission, fearful that his power would come into question.  That fear kept him—a Jewish king, worshipper of the One God with access to experts on Scripture and its meaning—from making his way to Jesus. The Magi, on the other hand, were astrologers.

That star over Bethlehem spoke to them, perhaps in some unexpected way. Whatever they heard, it was revelatory enough to inspire them to travel far is search of a light that could transform their lives.

Friend, on the feast of the Epiphany I invite you to follow your own star and be transformed by the presence of God in your life.  Perhaps you will be that shining light for someone… a peacemaker, a healer of hurts, a source of wisdom.  We are all chosen, we have all been called.  And we are all capable of revealing God’s goodness not just today but always.  Why not give it a try.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Father ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Lance Nadeau, M.M.

Feast of the Holy Family

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,

You have given us a beautiful example

of family and holiness by

overcoming problems, facing dangers

and resolving misunderstandings

by Your faith in God and through

Your love for one another.

Give us patience to endure setbacks,

courage to confront injustice

and faith to accept God’s will

even when we cannot be sure

of what to do.

Grant every family a mother’s love

a father’s wisdom and a son’s devotion

that our family might reflect Yours.

May we be ever mindful that a family is

made holy not by the absence of problems

but by the presence of God.

Amen

Prayer by Father Joe Veneroso, M.M.

Celebration of Hope or Love and Forgiveness, Journey of Faith

Celebration of Hope or Love and Forgiveness, Journey of Faith

“Son, why have you done this to us?  Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” Luke 2:48

Yesterday, the Nativity of Our Lord, was a great family day for many, packed from beginning to end with tradition and celebratory moments.  Most of us find purpose and meaning in our families, and Christmas is often when our expectations for “comfort and joy” are highest.

And yet… Christmas can be a lonely and painful time especially if there are disappointments or unresolved conflicts.  Well, guess what?  The Holy Family experienced conflict and tension, too.  In some ways, they were like us:  imperfect human beings struggling to overcome the challenges of their day—and trusting that with God’s help they would succeed.   

Read Luke’s Gospel today and you’ll see what I mean.  Jesus is already 12 years old now, accompanying his parents to Jerusalem for Passover.  After the feast, the family returns home with a caravan of friends and relatives, but Jesus decides to stay behind—without telling his parents.  Really?!  When Mary realizes that her little boy is not traveling with the other children, she panics.  She and Joseph return to Jerusalem filled with dread.  Eventually, their search takes them to the temple where their child is actually sitting with the elders, asking and answering questions like a scholar.  Mary couldn’t hold back her relief, but she wasn’t exactly happy either.  She says, “Son, why have you done this to us?”  I don’t know about you, but my sympathies are with Mary.  When Jesus answers his mother with, “Why were you looking for me?,” don’t you wonder how Mary responds?  What do you do with a child who is reprimanding his own parents?  Luke doesn’t tell us, but just so you know, my mother wouldn’t have remained silent! 

Throughout her life Mary endured many upsets just trying to be the best parent she could.  And we have to believe that Joseph did, too.  Were they always meek and mild in the face of events they couldn’t completely understand?  Probably not.  How did they resolve conflict?  Ultimately, by trusting in God.

Healing a wounded family may seem beyond our ken at times.  I realize that a change of heart

doesn’t happen in a few hours around the dinner table.  And we all know that life isn’t a performance of A Christmas Carol.  But when a rebirth happens, it’s so rewarding—it’s the very celebration of life that we memorialize in all the traditions of Christmas. Rebirth and renewal are possible if we just pause to ask ourselves, “How much healing can I offer someone right now?  And how much healing am I willing to accept if offered to me?” 

Friend, the Holy Family was not a collection of stick figures.  These were real people who experienced sorrow, anxiety, and disappointment just like the rest of us.  Who knows, maybe Mary and Joseph were the inspiration for St. Paul who taught us to always express “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another.” 

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Father ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Lance Nadeau, M.M.

Feast of the Holy Family

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,

You have given us a beautiful example

of family and holiness by

overcoming problems, facing dangers

and resolving misunderstandings

by Your faith in God and through

Your love for one another.

Give us patience to endure setbacks,

courage to confront injustice

and faith to accept God’s will

even when we cannot be sure

of what to do.

Grant every family a mother’s love

a father’s wisdom and a son’s devotion

that our family might reflect Yours.

May we be ever mindful that a family is

made holy not by the absence of problems

but by the presence of God.

Amen

Prayer by Father Joe Veneroso, M.M.

ABOUT MARYKNOLL

We are a Catholic Society of priests and brothers based in the United States. We are dedicated to missionary work overseas in over 20 countries. Additionally, we animate Catholics in the United States to follow their own baptismal call to share God’s compassion and love with the poor, the sick, and all those in need.

OUR GENERAL COUNCIL

L-R Tom O'Brien, Ray Finch, Joe Everson, Russ Feldmeier

(Fr. James M. Lynch, Fr. Lam M. Hua, Fr. Lance P. Nadeau, Fr. Timothy O. Kilkelly)

The Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers is overseen by our General Council, led by Superior General Rev. Lance P. Nadeau, M.M.

OUR FOUNDERS

L-R Tom O'Brien, Ray Finch, Joe Everson, Russ Feldmeier

(Our Co-Founders Father Price and Father Walsh)

PLACES WE SERVE

EVANGELIZATION, PARISHES, AND PROJECTS

USA

STORIES OF MISSION

(Africa) Education and Formation of African Clergy

The Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers Africa Region will provide tuition assistance to African clergy, male and female religious at institutes of higher education or specialized training. Read More

Stories of Our Global Mission

The calling of a lifetime

The life of a Maryknoll missioner is challenging, fulfilling, and deeply rewarding. Follow your baptismal call to mission by sharing God’s compassion with the poor, the sick, and people most in need.

L-R Tom O'Brien, Ray Finch, Joe Everson, Russ Feldmeier
“Go where you are needed but not wanted, and stay until you are wanted but not needed.”
– Bishop James E. Walsh, M.M.
First Maryknoll Bishop