The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph – Gospel reading: Luke 2:22-40
In accordance with Jewish law, Mary and Joseph presented Jesus at a temple in Jerusalem. While there, a devout man named Simeon passionately proclaimed that the baby Jesus was our salvation. And Luke writes, “The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him.”
I can imagine that this wasn’t the first time Mary and Joseph were amazed. Once they overcame the shock of the angels appearing to them and of the immaculate conception, I’m sure they experienced many, many moments of pure amazement. The first time Mary felt the baby kick in her womb, when Jesus was born, when the Magi arrived bearing gifts, when Jesus first smiled, and on, and on. And in the event described in this reading, they were amazed at what Simeon and the prophetess Anna – two people they likely had never met before – had to say about Jesus’ destiny.
These experiences of the Holy Family were truly amazing, and I’m not sure anything can compare to the experience of raising the son of God. But with Christ at work in our daily lives, we too have opportunities to be amazed. Both at big things like the birth of a child and at little things like an especially colorful sunrise or the beauty of the winter’s first snowfall. Children especially are skilled at being amazed. It doesn’t matter how many times my son Vincent hides in the exact same obvious spot behind the couch during hide-and-go-seek. He is AMAZED every time I find him.
The people in my life who allow themselves to be amazed are also the most grateful and thus the most joyful. They allow themselves to be amazed by being mindful of where they are and what they are doing. They don’t miss out on what’s in front of their face because they aren’t lost in their thoughts or themselves. And so, they notice things that are worthy of their wonder and awe. They notice beauty in the ordinary, love in action, unique experiences, and special moments worth savoring.
As I reflect on the past year, I am most amazed at the new friendships I’ve made and the existing friendships that have grown, as a result of a shared love of Christ. When two or more people get together, with a shared priority and emphasis on God, the depth of relationship that results is life-changing. My soul is filled on a regular basis by these relationships, and when I stop to let myself be amazed by it, I can’t help but feel tremendous gratitude for God touching my life in this way.
As we approach the new year and consider the new beginnings that 2018 may bring, I hope and pray that each of us can find a way to allow ourselves to notice where we are and who we are blessed to be there with. To be amazed. And, to be grateful that we have so many things that are worthy of our wonder.