Wow! What. A. Year!
I trust that you have all had joy filled celebrations (and hopefully some recovery from those celebrations!) over the week gone by.
To all our visitors, I extend a cool welcome amidst this summer’s heat. I hope your visits to Church have felt refreshing.
These last hours of 2023 feel at least for me like a liminal space. A final chance to look back and look around at 2023, before closing the door and stepping out into 2024. The “doomsday clock” moved to 90 seconds to midnight on account of various global unrests. India overtook China in population and everyone speculated if India was going to reproduce the Chinese narrative for itself (and perhaps the global village). Artificial intelligence became far more available and wowed (and unnerved) everyone with its capacity for use and misuse. In an ever-connected and inter-connected world, the question with every event was: what will this mean for us in our corner of the globe? At the time of writing, a war between Israel and Hamas has set in motion aggression by a third party – the Houthi Rebels in Yemen. The threat of these rebels has drawn a US-led coalition to protect shipping in the Suez Canal. Some of these “defining moments” went nowhere, others suggest there is more to come.
What were the defining moments for you this year? Did they catch you by surprise or did you anticipate them? Joseph and Mary in this weekend’s readings seemed to be doing “the done thing” with Jesus’ consecration to God. Things don’t unfold normally though. Defining moments seem to overshadow their liturgy: a stranger interrupts them holding their child, thanking God and laying down ominous prophecies. Another stranger, a woman, who was almost part of the furniture, launched into praise and began telling everyone how much the child was destined for saving Israel. Like some of the events of this year, there is a mix of anticipation and surprise. Jesus was prophesied about; when the time came, Mary and Joseph were understandably surprised by angelic visitors, but complied with God’s plans. Then they continue to be shocked and surprised in this weekend’s readings (and not for the last time). Prophecies, forecasts, hopes, surprises, shocks, detours… these are part of the pattern of life and in entering into our story, Jesus is drawn into that roller coaster ride with us.
For us it means that we pray to a God who not only sees us, but has subjected himself to our experience and says, “I sit beside you as this coaster goes up, down and upside-down”.
I look forward to sharing this next year with you! As we thank God for the gift of the Holy Family, I ask that we pray for the “little holy families” whose children will be receiving new sacraments this year. I invite you to pray for the “little holy families” who will be enrolling their children in the Notre Dame College at Aura. May our prayers bring God’s graces upon them. Moving now into the Year of Invitation, these will be excellent opportunities for us to extend to our young families, the open welcome that God and his Church shows us every time we come to the sacraments.
See you in the week!