We are in “Year B,” the reading cycle for the liturgical year that we began in Advent. Presiders can choose to read “Year A” readings, because the Year B readings really are not about family life. The first and second readings (Genesis 15:1-6; 21:1-3; Heb 11:8, 11-12,17-19) are about the people born from Abram (Abraham), through God’s design and providence. The Gospel is about the child born several millennia later, who “is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel.” Perhaps we, who live in this age of DNA and ancestry interest, can better appreciate the long history of the ancestry line that produced Jesus. I marvel that the Hebrew people preserved that history, orally first, and then eventually writing it into what became the “Old Testament” (Hebrew Scripture) of our Bibles. I marvel that for thousands of years the Hebrew people kept hope alive for a Messiah through their prophets, and so some disciples recognized Jesus and formed a community around him, the community of faith we belong to. Not all family lines make it — I know people who are the last in their families. How many hundreds of families had to make it, through good times and bad, during that long sweep of history, so that Jesus could be born. There was a power beyond ours at work there, a Guiding Hand. That same providence is at work in all families as a sustaining presence, but also as a healing presence. For we know that families are places of light but also of darkness, of joy but also of sadness, of birth but also of loss. Many of us have little or large ruptures in our families. And many people we know struggle with their family dynamics. Today we can call on the same Guiding Hand, that worked through Hebrew history, to touch our own family relationships with the sustaining and healing power of God’s guiding hand.
— Blog entry by Sister Mary Garascia; photo by mohamedhassan