Sir 3:2-6; 12-14; Col 3:12-21; Mt 2:13-15; 19-23
The first reading is one that is very close to my heart. Although I am the proud father of two compassionate teen-agers, I feel that it doesn’t hurt to remind them from time to time of Biblical injunctions such as this one: “Take care of your father – even if his mind fails, be considerate of him.” (Of course, I imagine that if they were sitting next to me at this moment, they would likely respond with something like, “That’s already happened to you, Dad.” And, to be honest, they may very well be right!)
What I’m thinking of as I ponder this reading from Sirach today is something broader, however. At the heart of Sirach’s admonition is a reminder of how important it is for the present to honor the past – and by logical extension, for the past to honor the present. Here’s an example of what I mean: Many of my favorite old time science fiction movies feature the stop animation work of Ray Harryhausen, the special effects master of the 1950s. (Yesterday, I was admiring his work in the movie “20 Million Miles to Earth.”) One of my favorite modern films that demonstrates the wonders of computer animated special effects is entitled “Monsters, Inc.” There’s a scene in “Monsters” in which one of the main characters makes reservations at the most chic restaurant in Monstropolis – a sushi place with the name of “Harry Hausen’s”. How’s that for the present honoring the past ?
Yet the scene is also about the past honoring the present. Computer animation has replaced stop animation, and while the skill of the clay model-maker may have been lost, the capacity for special effects and what they can bring to the big screen has increased exponentially. (Think of the first time we saw the digitally recreated Titanic in the James Cameron movie.)
Sirach reminds me on this feast of the Holy Family that we don’t have to chose between the past and the present. Between honoring family and honoring the path forward that divine Providence has laid out for each one of us. Between the sacred Tradition of our Catholic faith and the brand new movements of the Spirit as the Church begins its’ journey into the third millennium. Honoring the past gives meaning to the present. Honoring the present gives meaning to the past. And both together are the lamp unto our feet that we need to walk confidently and joyfully into the future.
Jim Philipps (3rd millennium pilgrim)
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