Reflection for December 30, 2012, by S. Maureen Irvin, OSF

“The Holy Family with the Little Bird,” by Bartholome Esteban Murillo, linked from WikiPaintings.

Reflection for December 30, 2012
The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

First Reading: 1 Samuel 1:20-22, 24-28
Second Reading: 1 John 3:1-2, 21-24
Gospel: Mark 12:38-44

In today’s Gospel, after the harrowing experience of losing her son while away from home, we are told, as has been pointed out in other Gospels, that Mary kept or pondered all of these things in her heart. Most family members have had occasion to ponder in their hearts and to hold in prayer what is happening in their own family. What is best for my child in this situation? How can I help my parents who are growing older? How will this new job or this move affect my family? How can we reconcile our differences? Will they forgive me? What shall I do if I think my spouse or child is making a huge mistake?

Often, it is wise to take some time to ponder and to pray rather than reacting to a situation immediately. Taking a step back, taking time to breathe, contemplating the many aspects of an event or encounter, asking God to give us wisdom and insight, can help us to respond from our best self in a Christian and compassionate manner. Mary surely had many questions and concerns. Jesus was often a surprise to her and to Joseph. Her relationship with God and her willingness to ponder, no doubt helped her to be the mother she wanted to be.

Loving God, we thank you for the example of Mary, who through contemplation, embraced God’s will for her life and her relationships. We thank you for our families, and pray that in the challenges of family relationships and decision-making, we may often slow down and step back to pray and reflect before reacting. Bless our parents, children, grand-children, extended families, and all who have been family to us over the years. Bless our human family and the family of all creation who inhabits our planet Earth. May we learn to love one another, to live at peace with one another and to consider one another’s needs when we choose to act. We ask this through our brother Jesus. Amen.

S. Maureen Irvin, OSF
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg

The Flight into Egypt, by Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

“Rest on the Flight into Egypt” by Luc Olivier Merson, linked from WikiCommons

Joseph held his responsibility for protecting the newborn child and his mother at the top of his priorities.  He watched them carefully, was glad when they found lodging soon after the census was taken. A little carpentry work took care of the cost of food and housing, so he was content.

Then came the dream. Herod was looking for them and they were to go immediately into Egypt to keep the child safe. Joseph went to Mary as she slept and roused her.  After explaining what had happened, the two of the gathered what they would need for the journey. 

The distance from Bethlehem to Egypt was more than 300 miles.  Walking and with only a donkey to carry what they needed, the trip was formidable.  I would think Joseph kept looking over his shoulder in his anguish to think someone would want to hurt Jesus.

When they finally came to Egypt their relief allowed them to rest more easily.  They talked about the visit of the Wise Men, and how welcome their gifts were now.

They settled down, and lived there for many months.


In the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, there was a painting entitled the “Rest on the Flight into Egypt.”  It showed the Sphinx in all its grandeur.  Mary had climbed up to the arm of the sculpture, and was asleep.  The child Jesus held firmly on her lap by the shawl she was wearing. 

Joseph slept too, but a short way from the Sphinx, with his walking stick nearby. Lying completely prostrate his worry and fatigue was obvious.

They were out of Herod’s clutches, and he could relax.

The Sphinx had a gentle smile on his face. For me that smile spoke volumes. Jesus is here for all peoples and all are asked to protect him from harm in the persons they meet every day. Jesus is alive in each of us.  If you think you cannot see him in someone, that person needs your special care and concern.  Do everything you can so salvage the life of Jesus in that person. Pray especially for people on death row who are waiting for someone to put them to death. Others are dealing with the death of children unable to understand how or why. Most do not have a protector like Joseph.  We, who are sheltered, must be like the sphinx, and offer a place of comfort, unknown to anyone else but God.


Love and Peace to all of you,

Sharonlu OSF


Mary the Moon

             These past nights the sky has been clear where I live, and the moon full.  It was really the most beautiful sight. The soft glow in the dark sky was so lovely.  It was then that I recalled the lesson from my science class. The moon has no light of its own.  What we see is the reflected light on the moon from the sun. This brought back to me a prayer that we said when I was in high school.  It began: “Jesus the Sun, Mary the Moon”

            And isn’t that appropriate.  Mary, our mother, and Jesus’ mother, was just a simple human being like you and me.  She is not God; she has no light of her own; she lives in the reflection of the brightness of her SON.  Without Jesus, Mary would not be noted for much of anything just like all the other young maidens in Nazareth.

            Jesus made all the difference in her life as her Magnificat proclaims.  So the Moon as a symbol of Mary is most fitting.

            Mary is the quiet one, mostly behind the scenes, just as the moon isn’t noticed much unless you are looking for it.  Sometimes it fades from view completely, as Mary often does in the Gospel narrative.  Not so the Sun.  It is always noticed, and it should be.

            The Son/Sun sustains life; The Mary/Moon enhances the Son/Sun’s work by being a serene reflector of it.  Mary is a guiding force for us in our daily lives.  Without her we might be at a loss to realize that we, simple human beings that we are, can reflect the life and love of God. The moon, by controlling the seasons, and keeping the seas active enhances our lives here on earth.  Without the moon the seas would be flat and soon would become stagnant or dry up.

            How about us then?  We cannot be a grand life-giving force.  But we can become a grand reflection of that awe-some grandeur that is God.  And Mary is our model.

            Jesus the Sun, Mary the Moon!

            Let the moon always remind you of our gentle Mother Mary, and may YOU be a moon that reflects the divine beauty.

Peace, Joy, and Everything Good,

S. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF, Educator
Oldenburg Franciscan Center