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Wednesday, January 22, 2020

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When each family becomes stronger, so does our whole community

When each family becomes stronger, so does our whole community

When Joseph and Mary took baby Jesus to the temple for the purification rites, two senior citizens met them. Their names are Simeon and Anna.

In many societies, the elderly maintain a predominant role in the life of the community. In our society that empathizes doing over being, most senior citizens are brushed aside as not being “with it.”

It’s true that the vast majority of teenagers can tell me how to get the best use of my cell phone more than I can imagine. However, I can tell them the true meaning of life and what are the most important issues about living a full life in today’s society. Unfortunately, most of the time, we don’t get asked.

St. Luke describes Simeon as a righteous, devout person, full of the Holy Spirit and looking to “the consolation of Israel,” the appearance of the long-awaited Messiah. According to Luke, God had promised Simeon that before his death until he saw the coming of the Messiah.

Is there a more tender scene in all of the Bible? A shuffling old man whose days are about to run out, radiating with the glow of the Holy Spirit, holding that precious baby and praising God? What a memorable occasion that was! No wonder Luke tells us that Joseph and Mary marveled at what Simeon did and said. It was a wonder-filled moment. They would have many more experiences as parents of that very special child.

Simeon tells the parents that he has good news and bad news. He gives the good news first. He describes the child as “a light of revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory to God’s people Israel.” (Luke 2:31-32)

Then the bad news: “A sword will pierce your own soul too.”

The Jewish Authorities would reject Jesus and condemn him to a cruel death.

Anna, the other senior citizen, “began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.”

That was what most senior citizens do; they spread the good news and try to teach their children and grandchildren the true meaning of life.

Let’s look at our own family life. Let’s face it: “Home is where the hurt is.” It’s true, “Home is where the HEART is” but it’s also true that ”Home is where the HURT is.”

Besides physical abuse within families, many people are pointing an accusing finger at their parents or brothers and sisters and saying, “This is why I am in such pain today. It all goes back to the way I was treated as I was growing up.”

Unfortunately, all too often, this is true. Many people go through much of their lives trying to heal the wounds inflicted by the families in which they were raised.

Families can hurt because there is so much power within families – power for good or for evil. Many people look back on their families and are deeply thankful for their parents and their brothers and sisters because there they first experienced deep love and security. They could make mistakes and be forgiven. In the family they were valued as precious and loveable.

The family is the creation of our loving God. The family is the school of love and respect because it is in the family that children learn what it means to be human.

“Love one another” takes on a special meaning when we think about family life. Our illusions of how loving we are, quickly go up in smoke when we are face to face with the rebellious child or an indifferent marriage partner. We can discover how caring we really are, when we experience first hand how unkind or cruel we can be to members of own families.

When each family becomes stronger, so does our whole world become stronger. Ask God to help you strengthen your family life.