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New Bethlehem Heart
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"New Bethlehem Heart"

"It's a Must"

          This year on the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the gospel is from Luke 2:41-52. It is the story of the finding of the child, Jesus, in the temple. Two times Jesus traveled to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover and did not leave after wards: At the age of twelve; and, twenty one years later at the age of thirty three, when he offered himself as the Passover Lamb for our salvation on the cross.

          At the age of twelve Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem and after three days his parents found him in the temple. Jesus was at "home" in the temple. He had stayed behind on purpose. It was a choice he made on his own. Upon finding him his parents discovered that "Jesus has another Father and that His "house" and "work" have already laid claim to Jesus' heart" (Workbook for Lectors, Gospel Readers, and Proclaimers of the Word. 2016. Graziano Marcheschi, p. 36). They learned that his heavenly Father has a stronger claim upon him then they do. Hence, the words of Jesus, "Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?"

          In our English language, the word, must, is defined as 'to be obliged, required by morality; to be compelled; absolutely required; indispensable'. There is no doubt about this: Jesus was a driven human being, led by an extraordinarily strong, irresistible desire to please the Father out of love!--to the extent of "Zeal for your house will consume me" (Psalm 69:10) During his public ministry Jesus used this same word, must, to describe his destiny in Jerusalem:

"From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised" (Mt. 16:21).

and,

 "So must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life" (John 3:14-15).

We have an expression in our English language, "it's a must". We use this phrase when exhorting someone to experience some event or place that we already have. It is often spoken with an air of an 'absolute requirement' that will thrill or satisfy them. Doing the Father's will was 'a must' for Jesus: "My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work" (John 4:34).

          During his public ministry Jesus used this word, must, in reference to the Father's will and work set for him: "My Father is at work until now, so I am at work" (John 5:17); and, "I glorified you on earth by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do" (John 17:4). This work is Jesus' dying on the cross for the salvation of souls. Jesus identified so strongly with the Father, His will and work to the extent that the words, "I must be in my Fathers' house" became more, "I am my Father's house" (see John 2:17) in reference to his unique humanity, holy priesthood and expiation for our sins.

          There is great need today to rediscover the "must" of our faith, living as we do in an age of growing "attitudinal minimalism" in regard to religion. For example, for many Catholics today the "must" of Sunday Eucharist has atrophied into "maybe/maybe not". For many, "must" has become "mush"! There is urgent need to experience the Heart of Jesus that "houses" his foundational "must thrust" in relation to the Father. There can be no authentic holiness in our lives without a sharing in this "must" imperative of Jesus. It's time to 'blow the dust off our must', 'scrape the rust off our must'. It's 'must or bust'!

Questions:

1)    How deeply embedded in my life and lifestyle is the "must" of Jesus?

2)   Does my relationship with God have a stronger claim and influence upon my life than that of my own family?

Scriptures:

Any scripture from the text; John 2:13-16; 2 Cr. 6:16; Eph. 2:21-22

"TWO-ZERO-ONE-NINE, IN THE BREACH ON THE FIRING LINE"

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Remember that we must be a praying Church: Am I praying for our Church and our world?

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