The Institute for Christian Formation
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The Sixth Day Within the Octave of the
Nativity of the Lord:
Wednesday, December 30, 2015

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Our Gospel today on this sixth day of Christmas is Luke 2:36-40.  The first part of today’s Gospel focuses on the prophetess, Anna, who was widowed at a young age after seven years of marriage and has spent the rest of her life in the temple worshiping God with prayer and fasting.  She is privileged to be in the temple at the time Joseph and Mary presented Jesus in the temple when Jesus was forty days old.  She gave thanks to God, and then evangelized – telling all who were awaiting the redemption of Israel about the child Jesus.  The second part of today’s Gospel has the Holy Family returning to Nazareth, where Jesus lived at home with Mary and Joseph, was  formed  in  faith,  and  grew  up.  This home at Nazareth was Jesus’ “domestic church”, if you will.

The conclusion of today’s Gospel provides us with an excellent opportunity to reflect on our own “holy family” – our “domestic church.”  Paragraph #533 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that “the hidden life at Nazareth allows everyone to enter into fellowship with Jesus by the most ordinary events of daily life.”  And paragraph #2204 tells us, “‘The Christian family constitutes a specific revelation and realization of ecclesial communion, and for this reason it can and should be called a domestic church.’   It is a community
of faith, hope, and charity; it assumes singular importance in the Church, as is evident in the New Testament.”  And in the “Dogmatic Constitution on the Church” (Lumen Gentium), paragraph #11 states, “The family is, so to speak, the domestic church. In it parents should, by their word and example, be the first preachers of the faith to their children; they should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each of them…”
On December 4 (Friday of the First Week of Advent) we learned about the method of praying the Scriptures called “lectio divina.”  Here is a wonderful lectio divina reflection on today’s Gospel from the Order of Carmelites.

The prophetess Anna is a model of prayer and faith, and as she is elderly when mentioned in today’s Gospel is often viewed as a model for growing old gracefully and faithfully.  Spend some time today reflecting on Anna.  Here is a reflection on Anna and aging from the Sisters of Mercy of Ireland.   In what ways are you like Anna?  Who are the “Annas” in your life?  How is Anna a model for your journey of faith?
Presentation in the Temple
Rembrandt, 1628
The Holy Family with the Little Bird
Bartolome Esteban Murillo, circa 1650
Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain
is one way you hope your family will grow in faith during 2016?  What action do you need to take to facilitate this growth in faith in your domestic church during this upcoming New Year?
The Passover in the Holy Family Gathering Bitter Herbs
Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1855-1856
Tate Gallery, London, UK
What concrete actions do you take in your everyday family life to facilitate growth in wisdom, strength, and God’s favor?  How is faith handed on in your home?  Take a few minutes to think about your day so far on this Wednesday…how has God been present in the ordinary events of your life?

If you have children (or you have children visiting this Christmas Season), invite them to think of one way they have learned about God in their home today and to draw a picture (or write a reflection) illustrating how their family is a holy family. 

Tomorrow is the last day of 2015.  What