National Catholic Register

Culture of Life

We 3 Feasts of Christmastime

User’s Guide to Sunday

BY TOM & APRIL HOOPES

Dec. 23, 2007 - Jan. 5, 2008 Issue | Posted 12/18/07 at 2:59 PM

 

We’re covering two Sundays and one Holy Day of Obligation this week because the Register skips the last issue in December.

Sunday, Dec. 30, is the Feast of the Holy Family. Tuesday, Jan. 1, is the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. Sunday, Jan. 6, is the Epiphany.


Parish

EPriest.com offers “Best Practices” from parishes around the country. Under the heading “Keeping the Spiritual Gas Tank Full” is an activity for priests.

Over the holidays, many (if not most) priests miss out on the family-gathering experience. Father Timothy Reid of St. Anne’s parish in Charlotte, N.C., and friends who are also priests began a practice that helps them see God’s appreciation for this sacrifice. Click on the website for details.


Family

FamiliaUSA.net offers Familia’s Next Sunday Ideas. The last idea in December is good for all the holy days coming up. Click on the website for all the details; just know beforehand that it involves making angels and teaching children the prayer: “Angel of God my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here, ever this day be at my side to light, and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.”


Readings

Holy Family Sunday: Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14; Psalm 128:1-5; Colossians 3:12-21; Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23.

Mary, Mother of God (Jan. 1): Numbers 6:22-27; Psalm 67:2-3, 5-6, 8; Galatians 4:4-7; Luke 2:16-21

Epiphany Sunday: Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-13; Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6; Matthew 2:1-12.

EPriest.com offers free homily packs.


Our Take

A “problem” reading comes up in the first of our Masses. But don’t worry. It’s answered in subsequent ones.

The letter of St. Paul to the Colossians says, “Wives, be subordinate to your husbands.” This reading causes cringes in churches every year, because the sentiment seems so out of step with the times. It also seems wrong: Wives shouldn’t be slavishly obedient to their husbands.

Well, the first answer to that objection is to agree. St. Paul uses a verb meaning “to obey” when he describes children’s relationship with parents. He uses a different verb in describing wives. So Scripture itself opposes the idea of “slavishly obedient” wives.

The second answer is to point out that husbands are also given a command: to love their wives “as Christ loves the Church,” as it says elsewhere. This means “Husbands, sacrifice your whole life for your wife, and suffer for her up to death, if necessary.”

The third answer is to point out that the Gospel at this same Mass shows what it means for a wife, Mary, to be subordinate to a husband, Joseph.

It means that, when the angel tells Joseph to “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt,” Joseph goes. And so does Mary. Joseph is head of the Holy Family — which often makes him more chauffeur than chief.

Jan. 1 makes this answer even clearer. If “Be subordinate to your husband” means “Be less than your husband,” then somebody needs to tell the Church. On the Solemnity of the Mother of God, we dedicate the whole year to Mary and celebrate her as the greatest mere human in the history of mankind, so much so that another problem arises for some.

Far from thinking too little of Mary as someone “subordinate” to Joseph, people start to accuse the Church of thinking too much of her.

Epiphany answers that problem when wise men come from around the world to visit not Mary but her infant child.

And that is the greatest Christmas lesson of all. Mary is greater than Joseph. And Jesus — who as a child who must obey them both — is greater than all.


The Hoopeses are editorial directors of Faith & Family magazine (faithandfamilymag.com).