THE HOLY FAMILY
genesis 15:1-6, 21:1-3 or sirach 3:2-6; 12-14;
hebrews 11:8, 11-12, 17-19 or colossians 3:12-21;
on 23 october 1983, a bomb explosion at the marine barracks in beirut killed 220 marines and 21 other personnel, and wounded several others.
a few days later, paul kelly, marine corps commandant, visited the wounded in hospital. among them was corporal jeffrey nashton. he had suffered a fractured skull collapsed lungs, a broken leg, and a crushed arm. as kelly neared him, nashton motioned for writing material, wrote briefly, and passed the paper to his commandant. it had two words: «semper fi» (forever faithful), the marines’ motto.
with those two words nashton spoke for the millions who have remained faithful despite and in the face of adversity.
semper fi! two words which sum up the thrust of today’s readings, and speak for each character in them.
the first and second readings extol the faith of israel’s first family. GOD promises abraham many descendants. abraham, though old and childless, «put his faith in the LORD.» GOD asks abraham to leave his homeland, and to sacrifice his son. abraham is unconditionally and forever faithful.
the gospel recounts the faith of the holy family. joseph and mary present their son in the temple «just as it is written in the law of the LORD.» they did and would undergo difficult times, and their son—simeon tells them—«is destined… to be a sign that will be contradicted.» they remain forever faithful.
simeon and anna are idealized portraits of the faithful remnant of israel awaiting the messiah’s coming.
semper fi! that’s the challenge to our families today… despite all the pressures, tensions and crises we face.
will you and i remain faithful to GOD and to one another despite and in the face of troubles?