Friday, December 25, 2009

St. Joseph had to work on Christmas...



And other stuff like that...
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Only in our Nativity sets does the Holy Family remain frozen in prayer and adoration - but their first Christmas was probably a busy one.  With the help of the shepherds perhaps, St. Joseph began constructing a more suitable shelter for Our Lady and the Infant Jesus.  In one cycle of paintings, I believe by Fra Angelico, the stable is transformed with straw siding by the time the kings got there.  I'm sure Our Lady was pretty busy as well - and the sheperds seemed to like them, so they must have helped out a great deal.
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I don't have all of the dates and history of how Christmas has been celebrated throughout the world, but I doubt it was ever as emotion driven as it is today.  In fact our customs for Christmas developed in 19th century Germany and England.  Christmas extravagance and emphasis upon lavish gifts and decorations is a 20th century thing.  The wars spiked the emotional dimension, and alcoholism intensified they crazy bipolar-ism many people experience today.  (Hence last evening's posts with my sincere best wishes for a happy Christmas to the drunks and the sad and lonely, etc. - I was serious.)
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Although when you get older - like me - it is amazing how all of those trappings - though pretty, quaint, nice, warm and fuzzy, and all of that - one is no longer obliged by them.  If you do not allow yourself to be sucked into all the expectations society, family, friends and marketing place upon you to have a Merry Christmas - as we understand it today - one is free to penetrate the mystery of the Incarnation in ordinary life.  One experiences a wonderful freedom of spirit marked by peace and joy, snuggled together in the closeness of Christ.
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"The Lord provides everyone with tailor-made signals." - Benedict XVI
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Sometimes loneliness, sadness, pain, depressions and addictions of all kinds - can be the place wherein such signals are perceived.  As the premier Shepherd stated last night:
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"In our daily life, it is not like that. For most people, the things of God are not given priority, they do not impose themselves on us directly and so the great majority of us tend to postpone them.
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The shepherds teach us this priority. From them we should learn not to be crushed by all the pressing matters in our daily lives. From them we should learn the inner freedom to put other tasks in second place however important they may be so as to make our way towards God, to allow him into our lives and into our time. Time given to God and, in his name, to our neighbour is never time lost. It is the time when we are most truly alive, when we live our humanity to the full.

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We live our lives by philosophies, amid worldly affairs and occupations that totally absorb us and are a great distance from the manger. In all kinds of ways, God has to prod us and reach out to us again and again, so that we can manage to escape from the muddle of our thoughts and activities and discover the way that leads to him. But a path exists for all of us. The Lord provides everyone with tailor-made signals. He calls each one of us, so that we too can say: "Come on, 'let us go over' to Bethlehem to the God who has come to meet us. Yes indeed, God has set out towards us. Left to ourselves we could not reach him. The path is too much for our strength. But God has come down. He comes towards us. He has travelled the longer part of the journey. Now he invites us: come and see how much I love you. Come and see that I am here." - 2009 Christmas Eve Homily, Pope Benedict XVI.
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Art: Adoration of the Shepherds - Murillo

6 comments:

  1. "Come and see how much I love you. Come and see that I am here."
    Oh, yes.
    He IS here; and He loves us beyond our imagining...a vulnerable Infant born in a "cattle stall"...how can we resist?

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  2. Thanks for the thoughts and the quote from the Holy Father. Have a happy Christmas!

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  3. Merry Christmas, Terry,

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  4. Merry Christmas all!

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  5. +JMJ+

    Terry, about the painting:

    Are Mary and Jesus really that much sharper in colour than St. Joseph and the Shepherds? They seem unnaturally bright to me (but then again, I don't know art!).

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  6. Enbrethiliel - I think it is photo shopped to be like that - I may be wrong.

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