Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmastide - Extended Family

Photo courtesy of Mindaugas Urbonas
Now we are at the 7th Day of Christmas and find that, after celebrating Jesus' early home life yesterday, this is another day with nothing planned. Are we getting bored yet with these famous 12 Days? Certainly it would be much more fun to rub our eyes at the extravagant gift of 7 swans a-swimming and all the rest (particularly the several sets of "5 golden rings" that are accumulating!). Getting stuff is so much more fun. Just look at how much we enjoyed it on Christmas Day!

But maybe that's the point. Other than the Magi's gifts there is no record Jesus and his family got any stuff or reveled in any festivities. If anything they were getting ready to circumcise him tomorrow -- an exceedingly important day in the life of a young Jewish family, but not quite the same as having an feast of french hen, goose, and pears.

If the Lord Messiah had chosen to be born in a royal palace instead of a dank cave (a choice he surely had) you may be sure he would have been welcomed with an extravaganza every bit as opulent and enthusiastic as that immortalized in "The 12 Days of Christmas." But he chose differently. And on this day the only extravagance is the love shown him by his little family of Mary and Joseph.

"Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?"
Interestingly then, when he had grown to be a popular rabbi with a knack for turning the most mundane situation into a profound lesson, he defined his followers in family terms:
He replied, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” Looking around at those seated around him in a circle, he said, “Look, here are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does God’s will is my brother, sister, and mother.”
(Gospel of Mark, chapter 3 verses 33 - 35, Common English Bible)

The commonplace love of his early family Jesus extended to all of us. In effect, we are the Holy Family today, and Jesus is the "first of many brothers and sisters," (Letter to the Romans, chapter 8 verse 29, CEB).

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