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Intimacy | Gospel of December 31

By 27 December, 2023No Comments
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Gospel according to Saint Luke 2,22-40:

When the day came for the purification according to the law of Moses, they brought the baby up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, as it is written in the law of the Lord: Every firstborn male shall be consecrated to God. And they offered a sacrifice as ordered in the law of the Lord: a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.
There lived in Jerusalem at this time a very upright and devout man named Simeon; the Holy Spirit was in him. He looked forward to the time when the Lord would comfort Israel, and he had been assured by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before seeing the Messiah of the Lord. So he was led into the Temple by the Holy Spirit at the time the parents brought the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law. Simeon took the child in his arms and blessed God, saying, «Now, O Lord, you can dismiss your servant in peace, for you have fulfilled your word and my eyes have seen your salvation, which you display for all the people to see. Here is the light you will reveal to the nations and the glory of your people Israel». His father and mother wondered at what was said about the child. Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother, «See him; he will be for the rise or fall of the multitudes of Israel. He shall stand as a sign of contradiction, while a sword will pierce your own soul. Then the secret thoughts of many may be brought to light».

There was also a prophetess named Anna, daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. After leaving her father’s home, she had been seven years with her husband, and since then she had been continually about the Temple, serving God as a widow night and day in fasting and prayer. She was now eighty-four. Coming up at that time, she gave praise to God and spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem. When the parents had fulfilled all that was required by the law of the Lord, they returned to their town, Nazareth in Galilee. There the child grew in stature and strength and was filled with wisdom: the grace of God was upon him.


Luis CASASUS President of the Idente Missionaries

Rome, December 31, 2023 | Feast of The Holy Family

Sir 3:3-7.14-17a; Col 3:12-21; Lk 2:22-40

Unlike many children and teenagers in the world, the Child Jesus was fortunate with his family. Not only because he received food, education and care, but also because he enjoyed true intimacy with Mary and Joseph. The Gospel account does not give many details, but, as we have heard, Jesus lived in a warm and welcoming environment, so that the Child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him. St. Luke will continue later (Lk 2: 41-52) recounting the family visit to Jerusalem, on the occasion of the feast of the Passover; another time of close fellowship and intimacy, which proved to be stronger than the “misunderstanding” that occurred when Jesus stayed in the Temple, talking with the masters.

What is intimacy? We are not going to give a definition, but in reality it is the deepest aspiration of the human being. Intimacy means the way to and from each other in love, which is not always the case. Intimacy is the breeding ground of faith; by having the opportunity to believe in someone to be accepted, we become capable of welcoming the gift of faith.

Intimacy explains how our union with God, friendship, true generosity, sexual life, the desire to live… Frustrated intimacy is the basis of many fears, abuse, infidelity, sadness, dependencies, double life, suicide….

There are plenty of everyday and exceptional examples to prove that this is true. Here is one of them.

A woman named Hannah, unexpectedly went into labor pains 25 weeks into her twin pregnancy.  She was rushed to the hospital and gave birth two days later. Hannah and her husband joyfully welcomed their two little boys: Dylan, 980 grams, and Deiniol, 940 grams.

However, when both children were transferred to the neonatal unit of a hospital, Dylan started to develop.  As a result, he was transferred to another hospital, about 100 km away.  Without his older brother, Deiniol’s health began to deteriorate and he started needing 100% oxygen to stay alive.  At 14 weeks after birth, doctors were of the opinion that Deiniol would not survive.  So the parents asked Dylan to return to the hospital to say goodbye to his twin brother.

Both babies were placed in the same incubator for the reunion.  After 5 minutes together, to everyone’s great surprise, Deiniol’s condition improved immediately and he only needed 50% oxygen.  And, as soon as they tried to separate Deiniol from his brother, he soon needed 100% oxygen supply again.  Since it was clear that the twin brothers needed to be together, they put Dylan back together with his brother; within two days, Deiniol was taken off the ventilator completely.

It was truly a miracle, the mother told the radio. Dylan saved his dying brother’s life with just a hug. It was brilliant to see and it showed us all that they should never have been separated. From then on, the boys stayed together in the hospital for two months. After providing his brother with a good dose of brotherly love, Dylan left the hospital and Deiniol finally went home four months later.

The twins recently celebrated their first birthday. The little brothers are thriving, although Deiniol still needs a little oxygen until his lungs are fully formed.  Although medical research cannot prove the life-saving qualities of the embrace between twin siblings, we can see that the miracle of that love, that form of intimacy, is indeed powerful.

One way to understand what intimacy means is to remember that the essence of being human is transverberation, that is, being able to compenetrate with divine and human persons. This is how we were created. Unfortunately, many people cannot believe this because their experiences of relationships with family or acquaintances have been too painful.


What is the surest way to ruin intimacy?

Many therapists who are dedicated to helping struggling marriages agree: contempt. This doesn’t necessarily mean insulting or humiliating the other person, but eroding the bond with the other person in subtle or not-so-subtle ways. Yes; it is a real erosion, like water on rock, something that may seem surprising, unexpected. Contempt means to stop appreciating, to become insensitive and not to give value to what a person thinks, says or does.

The same happens to us with the Divine Persons. Even if we call ourselves believers, practicing or consecrated Christians, these are the three most frequent manifestations of our contempt:

– I do not reflect, I do not meditate on the Word of Christ and yet I spend time brooding over things of the world.

– I do not value the forgiveness received every day, the gift of faith, renewed in spite of my mediocrity.

– I ignore the signs that Providence gives me to live mercy.

In the First Reading, Ben Sirach speaks of the importance of honoring father and mother, as indicated in the Fourth Commandment, the first after those that refer to God. In the Hebrew language, “honor” means precisely “to give weight,” to take into consideration. Paul’s insistence in the Second Reading also lets us understand that it is easy NOT to honor someone whose virtues are not visible, whose strength is failing with age or whose favors we have forgotten because we feel strong, free, autonomous and capable of facing difficulties. We stop “giving weight” to the good received, to the favors, to the forgiveness that comes to us from God and from our neighbor.

Of course, in our apostolic life the same is true. We must confess the work of the Holy Spirit in us. As Psalm 104 says: Sing praises to the Lord and give thanks to Him, and declare His wonders to the nations. Sing hymns and songs in his honor, celebrate his miracles. This requires contemplation, an attentive look at those wonders and miracles, which are usually secret, personal, profound… but worthy of being shared.

To understand what the virtue of honor is, it is interesting to see contempt as its opposite. If at times it may seem difficult to honor a person, to take him or her into consideration, for someone who has faith it is enough to remember that the neighbor is a child of God, which is not an empty title, but means that God the Father has a unique, grandiose plan for that seemingly insignificant or perhaps difficult person. That was made clear in the case of Mary and was revealed, through Simeon and Anna, in the case of the infant Jesus. St. Paul himself, a former persecutor of Christ, found that he had been chosen and called to a divine plan that he could not have imagined.

Intimacy begins by opening my life to the other, not by asking too many questions, but by modestly sharing my most intimate experience. One of the essential experiences is the feeling of gratitude for the goods received. Sirach himself recalls this: Honor your father with all your heart and do not forget the sufferings of your mother. Remember that they bore you; how can you repay them for what they have done for you (Sir 7: 27-28).

Another kind of experience that reveals intimacy and trust when shared in an appropriate way (without regrets, without taking away the relevance of the other’s suffering), are our difficulties.

Let us take a fictitious example, but illustrative of many real cases:

————— Dialogue without intimacy —————

Jim: Good to see you. Your sister tells me you’ve been dealing with some difficult issues lately, especially exams. How’s that going?

Charles: Things are going well. I’m feeling much better. Thanks for asking.

Jim: That’s great. Glad to hear it.

————— Dialogue with more intimacy —————

Jim: It’s good to see you. Your sister tells me you’ve been dealing with some difficult issues lately, especially exams. How’s that going?

Charles: I’m struggling. It’s been a tough few months. Sometimes I feel hopeful about the exams, but other times I struggle to make sense of it all.

Jim: I’ve had similar problems myself and I know how hard it is to face this; I spent two years to pass Algebra. I’d love to talk to you and support you as you get through it.


In the case of children and young people, it is true that they learn more with their eyes than with their ears. For this reason, the best catechesis is that done by parents praying and going to the temple with the whole family. This is what Luke tells us in today’s Reading and in the rest of Chapter 2, showing how Mary and Joseph were faithful to the rites prescribed by the Law. The First Reading also confirms to us that this pedagogy bears sure fruit: Whoever honors his father will be pleased with his children, and in the day of his prayer he will be heard. What our children saw us do to our parents will be the rule that they will follow in treating us in our old age.

On the other hand, in the case of Simeon and Anna, we see what true wisdom means, in this case of people who have lived many years. It is not simply that they “know many things” or “have had many experiences”. It is that gift that allows us to see what is truly valuable, to discern between what has been a useless experience and a valuable experience.

On the other hand, when a person begins to have memory lapses, to repeat stories, perhaps to become aggressive because of their limitations, their life is serving us to be more aware of the weakness of ALL of us, which takes different forms at different times in life.

Let us live intimacy centered on Christ, on all occasions, in situations of discord, doubt and joy. As St. Paul enthusiastically tells us in today’s text, so often invoked by our Father and Founder:

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.


In the Sacred Hearts of Jesus, Mary and Joseph,