REFLECTIONS. Extracts from THOUGHTS FOR THE DAY December.
Some stories of ancestors of Jesus, more or less well known build up a Jesse tree. Telling the Bible stories of Jesus’ ancestors, family sharing and praying together and showing care for others is a powerful way to keep the message alive. We can add a short thank you prayer each day. Dear Father God, thank you for showing us the way of merciful love through the life of Jesus your Son. May we put Christ back into Christmas every day in every way as we spread your love to those who share our lives.
December 8th. Joseph. Read Genesis 37-45. The story of Joseph tells how the Israelites came to be in Egypt. Being Jacob’s favourite and spoiled son, having been given his famous coat of many colours, he also had a gift for interpreting dreams. His brothers were jealous and schemed to kill him, but eventually only threw him into a pit, from where he was rescued by passing travellers and taken to Egypt. He prospered there, although he did end up in jail for a time falsely accused of rape. It was his gift for interpreting dreams that attracted Pharaoh’s attention and his skills led him to becoming Pharaoh’s right hand man. When there was a famine in Israel the brothers came to Egypt for help. Joseph recognised them but they did not recognise him. After testing them he expressed his forgiveness for how they had treated him.
Pope Francis: Children need help in the process of inner healing and in this way grow in the ability to understand and live in peace with others. AL195. Points for reflection and discussion. From being a spoilt child Joseph’s good qualities of leadership emerged. A central message is Joseph’s willingness to forgive. Would one expect such things from spoilt children? Belief in and interpretation of dreams is still an area of confusion today
December 10th. The girls who stood up for their rights. In the book of Numbers 27 and 36 we read of a group of girls or young women demonstrating because they were concerned that after their father’ death only brothers could inherit the father’s property. They put their case to Moses, who put it to God. God agreed that this was not right and that if a man had no son his property should go to his daughters. Later this was changed and daughters were told this could only happen if they married someone from their own tribe because otherwise the land would be lost to that tribe.
Why should the name of our father be taken away from his family, because he had no son? Give to us a possession among our father’s brethren. Numbers 27: 4. Pope Francis: Education includes encouraging the responsible use of freedom to face issues with good sense and intelligence. AL 262. Reflect and share: At the time there was injustice with regard to female rights in the family. How does your family and culture feel about inheritance? Is it a question of fairness or tradition?
December 11th. Judges and Jephthah. Judges 11:29-40. The books of Joshua and Judges continue the story of the Israelites. After the death of Moses and of Joshua his successor there was a time of wars and conflicts when the people of Israel did not have appointed leaders. Judges was the name given to people who rose up from the community and were chosen by God to lead the people at a particular time when they had turned away from God, were being attacked and called on God once again for help. The Israelites were strict about purity of line and marrying or having children by foreign women was greatly frowned upon. Jephthah was the son of a harlot and driven out of the family by his brothers. He became a good soldier and when the Israelites saw themselves in danger they called him back to be a judge. An unfortunate situation arose. He made a vow to the Lord ‘if you deliver the Ammonites into my power, whoever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites shall belong to the Lord. I shall offer him up as a holocaust.” It happened that it was his daughter, his only child, a virgin who came to meet him. Jephthah was distraught but kept his promise. He told the girl, who asked for some time to prepare and “mourn her virginity.”
Pope Francis: Human dignity demands that each of us act out of conscious and free choice as moved and drawn in a personal way from within. Points for reflection and discussion. This situation of Jephthah is seen today as controversial. How far does one keep a promise or a vow? Some writers say the vow was “imprudent” Mosaic law at this time forbade human sacrifice. From a family point of view, discuss the whole aspect of making and keeping a promise? What about marriage vows that are so regularly broken?