Aloha Friday Message – December 29, 2019 – We’re outta here!

1952AFC122919 – We’re outta here!

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     Colossians 3:12-13 12 As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. 13 Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! We made it! This is the final week of 2019. In just a couple of days, all the “20/20” jokes will start. Of course, for those of us “of a certain age,” the old joke work just as well. We still laugh at them because – well, because somehow they are new (again) to us! You probably remember this one.  (← Check it out link!) This is the drawing of “The Flight to Egypt” as seen by a kindergartner. That’s Mary, then Jesus (halo and all), then Joseph seated in the plane. And of course, the guy up front in Ponchus, the Pilot.

It’s easy to understand how a kid would think of it that way. Of course, we know better – maybe. Just why did Joseph get orders to pack up and take Jesus and Mary to Egypt?

We remember there was that terrible day (maybe several days of terror actually) when Herod the Great ordered the murder of all the male children under two years old in Bethlehem. John the Baptist and Jesus the Christ were born toward the end of his 37 years as king. It was the rumored that the “New King of The Jews” would displace him. Ἡρῴδης (Héródés) {hay-ro’-dace} is the name associated with this king (the titular name is based on a word for “heroic”). He was extraordinarily cruel, paranoid, and thought nothing of executing anyone he perceived to be a threat – including his own wife and the two sons she bore him! This is the man whose decision to murder scores of innocents put the life of Jesus – and his parents – in harm’s way. Herod was, as we say these days, a real piece of work.

Herod was a brave warrior and skilled in that kind of life. He was well educated and shrewd in his dealing with others – in a very paranoid way. He was infatuated with Roman customs, Roman society, Roman politics, and especially Roman taxes. He added to the burden of taxes his subjects had to bear from Rome by adding more on top of that. His murderous reputation was exceeded only by his disdain for his opponents. The Jewish people were totally fed up with him, yet feared to go against him; his reaction would be violent and costly. Herod was also a builder – he built pagan temples and amphitheaters in Greek cities – some within his “realm” and others even outside his sphere of influence. He restored may old cities and even created new cities – all to impress Emperor Augustus. He rebuilt Strato’s Tower, an ancient Phoenician settlement on the Mediterranean, and created a large artificial harbor called Caesarea Maritima (not to be confused with Caesarea Philippi). He undertook a tremendous restoration of the Temple, the Temple Mount, and planned a retaining wall. None of this was enough to make his people forget what a horrid man he was. Because Herod was so evil, getting the Holy Family out of the Holy Land was absolutely essential for their survival. Herod would continue to pursue them until he himself died. But wait, there’s more.

In this Sunday’s readings, the Gospel says, “He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the Prophet [Hosea] might be fulfilled, Out of Egypt I called my son.” Now, Matthew would not mention that if it was not important, so what makes that important? Let’s take a look at what Hosea said: Hosea 11:1 When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. You may remember we’ve talked about “types,” or “foreshadowing.” These figures – literary devices – look ahead and back at the same time. In this prophecy, Hosea is referring to that actual historical nation Israel. The Patriarchs – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (who was called Israel) went to live in Egypt at the time of Joseph. In fact, quite a number of Hebrews moved to Egypt, and the nation sort of incubated and grew up there for a few hundred years. Then God sent Moses to call his child – the nation of Israel – to come out of Egypt and to go back to their homeland. Their development took place in Egypt. They went from “childhood” to “manhood” in Egypt. This is a type or foreshadowing of the life of Jesus. He spent a significant part of his childhood in Egypt. Egypt, for Israel, was a place of bondage, of sin, and of great difficulties. To be “called out of Egypt” is to be called out of a arduous situation into a less demanding life, a life of blessing. The Holy Family stayed in Egypt and waited for God to provide that blessing of returning home; God’s plan was to bring his Son’s family out of Egypt.

Then an Angel of God came and told Joseph, Jesus’ foster father, that it was safe to return to their homeland because Herod was dead. As their journey progressed, they learned that Herod Antipas, the  son of Herod the Great and Malthace, and he was a chip off the old block – a real stinker like his dad. He was a real loser, too. He decided he didn’t like his first wife, so he went after the wife of his brother Herod Phillip; her name was Herodias (lots of “-herod-” names in this story; remember, Herod translates roughly as “hero.”) It was this illegal marriage which John the Baptist condemned, and Herod Antipas and his wife Herodias were very angry about that. It was at Herodias’ urging that John was beheaded. She was afraid of him. Herod Antipas was curious about John, and later about Jesus. That curiosity was thwarted when the Chief Priests had Jesus arrested. All of this fits well into the narrative of Israel being formed in Egypt and then called out to establish the kingdom as God had foreseen it. Why did it happen that way?

It happened that way because that history is what laid out the highway for the entry of the Messiah. Jesus’ birth, growth, development, and entry into ministry was foreshadowed through Israel  by their birth, growth, development, and entry into God’s service. God always has a plan, it’s always the right plan, and it always works the way he planned it. God established Israel as a family, as the descendants of the Patriarchs. He provided a place for them to mature their family. He provided a place for the family to inherit and to rule as their own land. He planned that family would be the basis of community. It is in community that we learn to know, love, and serve God. God is Community, and we are created in the image of God. Our family should be an mirroring of God’s family. Now that we know why God called his Son’s family out of Egypt, I’d like to pull a short excerpt from Sunday’s second reading see what simple guidelines we find for being a family like the Holy family. Let’s turn to

Colossians 3:18-21 18 Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly. 20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is your acceptable duty in the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, or they may lose heart. Notice how the passage emphasizes an appropriateness of everything depending on and matching the relationship of Creator and creation, of God and Family, of what is proper as it exists in God’s plan. In years past, and in some situations even more so in the Culture of Outrage, the phrase “wives be subject to your husbands” still rankles some of us. The sense in which it is properly used here is based on ὑποτάσσω (hupotassó) {hoop-ot-as’-so} – in Strong’s Concordance this is 5293 hypotássō (from 5259 /hypó, “under” and 5021 /tássō, “arrange”) – properly, “under God’s arrangement,” i.e. submitting to the Lord (His plan) to submit to one’s control; to yield to one’s admonition or advice. Thus “fitting” belongs with “in the Lord,” and not to “subject” (or submissive). This is expanded in Ephesians 5:24-25 24 Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands.25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her …. In Colossians 3:23 the Apostle Paul gave another example of the proper order of things when he says 23 Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters.  Even the Apostle Peter stated this was proper and appropriate saying in 1 Peter 3:1-2 1 Wives, in the same way, accept the authority of your husbands, so that, even if some of them do not obey the word, they may be won over without a word by their wives’ conduct, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.

Husbands are admonished to love their wives gently and in the way that God loves us in Christ. These ideas have been badly misappropriated for millennia because men took to the idea that women were to be inferior slaves, and women naturally – AND RIGHTLY – resented that. The reverse came about in the late 20th century and there is still a great deal of angst about the subject these days. Nonetheless, what God has planned is still what is proper, and for either gender to misconstrue his plan is the true source of the problem.

In this passage from Colossians, children are commended to the parents for proper rearing – in gentleness and fairness lest they become discouraged. I’ve told you before about Mrs. Wright and Ephesians 6:1-2 1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord,  for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” — this is the first commandment with a promise:“so that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” (See Exodus 20:12)

And finally, in this short but powerful passage about the ideal family, the Apostle Paul writes 21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, or they may lose heart. Here the Greek word used is ἐρεθίζω (erethizó) {er-eth-id’-zo} – stir up, arouse to anger, provoke, irritate, incite, embitter, exasperate. This can happen in two ways – the absentee father or the overbearing father. Neither is acceptable in God’s plan because God is never absent nor is he ever overbearing.

Now that we have a better understanding of “called out of Egypt,” and the importance of a God-centered family life, we can better understand how our families can confront and endure the hardships this evil, material, and often godless world imposes on our lives. We are called out of Egypt, Belovéd, to set up a family life that echoes, mirrors, and follows the life of The Holy Family. As we celebrate that beautiful family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph this weekend, let us joyfully celebrate the Hope that comes in living as a family that follows God’s plan for community in the way HE intended.

Reminder: Watch for a new email address soon. I seem to have a pretty flat learning curve (well, alright it’s actually downward sloped) on that. So now, for 2019, we’re outta here. Let’s get the heck out of Egypt as well, OK?

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever —

at your service, Belovéd!

Please pray with us here at Share-a-Prayer.

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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