Sunday, December 27, 2015

Respect MY Authoritah!!!

On this solemnity of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph (the day I write this "epistle from my scriptorium"), we Catholics heard in the Gospel where Jesus, at just 12 years old, stayed behind in the temple as his parents returned home.  Of course, little did Mary and Joseph know that he stayed behind (they thought Jesus was in the caravan), listened to the temple elders, and had quite the chat with them.  They couldn't get over how wise Jesus was at that age.

Meanwhile, Mary and Joseph were worried sick as to where Jesus was.  After all, Jesus was gone three days, and only 12.  Brings me back to a day when I was 13, when I had my mom worried sick.  At that age, I had a knack for taking marathon bike rides, exploring the wooded back roads of town of Cumberland (RI), and sometimes going into the nearby city of Woonsocket, towards Mount St. Charles Academy.  I would often leave about 3:00 PM or so, and return at about 5:00 PM.

One day, I took a longer than usual bike ride, spanning four towns (Cumberland, Lincoln, Smithfield, and North Providence) and a city (Pawtucket) before returning home well past 7:00 PM.  My mother had been worried, unbeknowest of me, to the point of tears.  I was a daring little biker at 13.  Two of the roads I traveled had posted speed limits of 50 MPH (which is HUGE in Rhode Island, petty in other states) at the time I traveled them (one of them has since been reduced to 40 MPH).  But, yeah, I, like Jesus, had my mom in a frenzy, thinking the worst of what could have happened to me.  I thought, "Why are you so worried about me?  I knew exactly what I was doing and where I was going."

Jesus, of course, had a better excuse for taking off than I did.  I basically went for exploratory reasons.  I love traveling on roads I've never been on before.  Jesus, on the other hand, asked Mary that same question: "Why are you so worried?  Why do you seek me?", and gave this explanation: "Did you not know that I had to be in my Father's house?"  That's the translation in the Lectionary for the United States.  The translation in the Gregorian Missal, on which I based the response for a Communion I recently finished writing for the Solemnity of the Holy Family, is "Did you not know that I had to be about my Father's business?"  While not being obedient to his parents in this matter, albeit probably inadvertently, he was being obedient to his Father (capital "F" intended, referring to God, as opposed to small "f", referring to Joseph).  I guess another way of putting this is that Jesus "had to do his Father's will".

Back in the days, the poop hit the fan if we were disobedient to our parents.  In addition to fear of a spanking (or, if you grew up south of the Mason-Dixon Line, a whoopin'), we had the fear of God instilled in us by our parents.  It all goes back to the Fourth Commandment:


A lot of the reason there is so much chaos in this country and even in many other parts of the Western World is that many have forgotten that simple commandment!

I will close with the words my pastor used to close his homily: "It is not the guns, the knives, nor the cars that cause the violence that happens in our streets.  It's the lack of morals, the lack of values, and the lack of foundation."  I will add my own words here: I've seen it happen too much where kids act out and their parents often act as if their kids' poop doesn't stink (the parents' own poop, too, for that matter).


Happy Holy Family Day!

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