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12/29/19 Holy Family - Fr. Reggie

Christ is God, and God can do whatever he pleases. His authority and power are unlimited. 

He could have chosen to form a body for the Incarnation out of the dust of the earth, as he had for Adam. 

Instead, he chose to take on human life in all its dimensions, entering into a family and giving real people - especially Joseph and Mary - crucial roles in the plan of salvation. God didn't whisk Jesus, Mary, and Joseph away into safety when Herod was looking for them - he entrusted St Joseph with that task. God didn't give Mary special powers to know when Joseph was right or wrong - he simply gave her the vocation to be Joseph's faithful wife and Jesus' loving mother. He let her take it from there. God guided them and helped them, but he didn't do everything for them. He chose to give them real responsibility; he made them real partners in his work of saving the world. Their decisions, choices, courage, and creativity mattered.

This is still his policy.  God has chosen to administer Christ's salvation through the action of the Church - not just the priests, bishops, and religious, but each one of us, integral members of the one Body of the Church. He guarantees the guidance of the Holy Spirit, but the Lord has given the keys of his Kingdom into Peter's hands. And so, in union with Christ's Vicar and Peter's successor, the pope, every Catholic is called to carry out a particular, unrepeatable role in the plan of salvation, just like Joseph and Mary.

As St Augustine put it, "God created us without us, but he did not will to save us without us."  

One of Jesus' favorite ways to describe his Kingdom, the Kingdom of salvation, was with the image of a seed. He used this image in many of his parables. It illustrates perfectly God's strategy. Jesus provides the seed. And without the seed, there can be no life, no fruit, no growth. The seed contains within itself the power to grow. And yet, the seed cannot take root, cannot fulfill its potential, unless it gets planted in good soil. The soil itself doesn't have any power to grow or produce fruit. In order for the soil to reach its full potential, it needs a seed to come and make use of its nutrients.

Both the seed and the soil are incomplete; they need each other.

This is how God has chosen to design his Kingdom.

He provides the seed of grace, of his Word.

But that grace will only bear the fruit of happiness, wisdom, redemption, and salvation in our lives and in the world if we actively and generously welcome it and nourish it and care for it.

He provides the seed, but we are responsible for the soil.

We are responsible for watering the soil through our prayer, plowing it with the sacrament of confession, and fertilizing it with the Eucharist.

God has chosen to make us partners in his work of salvation - he didn't have to, but he wanted to.

He wants to give us a share of the responsibility in building up his eternal Kingdom, so that we can also share in the glory of the Kingdom.

It is important for us to keep this in mind. There is no such thing as a second or third-string Christian. We are all in the gameall the time. Everything we do, every decision and relationship, can either help spread the victory of Christ's Kingdom, or hinder it.

If each day we are obeying Christ, our Coach, then we can be sure that we are scoring points for his Kingdom, for the redemption of the world and the salvation of souls - even if we don't actually see the results right away.

But we have to be obeying Christ

We have to be striving to do his will, to follow his example, with our lives, daily decisions, and behavior patterns.

And doing God's will is not complicated. It means following the commandments and listening to God's guidance in our conscience. It means being patient with family members, sacrificing our own preferences so as to make others happy. It means being honest and responsible at school and at work - not cheating, not taking shortcuts, not procrastinating, not being lazy. It means using money wisely, not wasting it or worshipping it. It means preferring faithful friendships to lustful partnerships. It means preferring purity instead of selfish indulgence and maturity instead of destructive gossip. It means finding creative ways to help others discover Christ's friendship.

God started saving the world by sending Christ into the care of Mary and Joseph on Christmas Day. 

Today he will continue saving the world by sending Christ into our care through Holy Communion. 

When he does, let's ask him to give us strength enough to say with our lives, and not just with our lips, "Thy Kingdom, come, thy will be done."

 

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