Order of Friars Minor Franciscans of Canada

Advent 3: Encountering Family

Advent 3: Encountering Family

 


This is Joseph.

We see him each day down the street, across the riser, trudging home from a shift, making schedules work, worn hands and deep eyes.

I encountered him the other day at an appointment. He obviously straight from the site, his little one held close, fitting in a doctor’s appointment for his child, being dad, being brave, being strong.

This is Joseph, the man Jesus called dad. A man who calls us to trust, to be present, to be brave and to be strong.

Where have you encountered Joseph this Advent? Are you on the lookout for him this week?

 

This is Mary.

We see her each day crossing the street, in the school parking lot, behind the grocery counter, making schedules work, tender hands and deep eyes.

I encountered her the other day, fairly new to this country, learning new roles and responsibilities. Doing the best for her family so they can simply live, being mom, being brave, being strong.

This is Mary, the woman Jesus called mom. A woman who calls us to be open, to give our all, to be brave and to be strong.

Where have you encountered Mary this Advent? Are you on the lookout for her this week?

 

This is Jesus.

We see him each day on the news, in the paper, in our neighborhoods, on the playground. He is the face of the child encountering war, facing famine, seeking shelter, left abandoned.

I encountered him the other day, his eyes piercing back from a newsfeed, not lost in the chaos around him rather he looked hopeful, he seemed to be asking, “Can you carry me?” “Can you take me in your arms?” “Can you find my manger in your community?” He simply was being child, being brave, being strong.

This is Jesus, the child who taught us to call God “Abba”. The child who calls us to trust, to be open, to be brave and to be strong.

Where have you encountered the Christ Child this Advent? Are you on the lookout for him this week?

 


This is Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Your family, my family, their family, our family, the holy family.

We see them each day in our churches, running errands, at the store, across the street, peering back from the paper, seeking peace, starting anew, looking for answers, striving for freedom, trying to be family.

Where do we encounter the Holy Family?

The image above is where this reflection all began for me a few weeks ago. I saw this family and I saw Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and so many families of the world both near and far. I asked myself where and when have I encountered you? When have I welcomed you? When have I been able to give you shelter? When have I acknowledged that you are holy?

 

I must be brave, I must be strong for the Spirit of the Lord calls me, calls us all to be bearers of good news, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty and to exult God (Isaiah 61. 1-2, 10-11).

In these days leading up to Christmas, in our busyness and full schedules where can we live out the call of the prophet Isaiah? How can we do this? Will the mangers of our hearts and homes be ready to welcome the Holy Family? Are we brave enough and courageous enough?

 

Let us prepare our hearts,

let us be people of faith,

let us truly look and not glance away,

let us gaze upon and enter into

their story and our story,

not quenching the Spirit,

rather rejoicing always (1 Thess. 5. 16-24)

in the gift of being child,

being spouse, parent, sibling,

being family in God.

 

May we encounter Emmanuel not only in these final days of Advent and at Christmas time but in the all the moments of our lives.

Blessings to you in these final days of Advent.