Family Madness

Holy Family


My Joseph – rest in peace, Dad.


Family Madness

Greetings on this the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

Readings: SIR 3:2-6, 12-14; PS 128:1-2, 3, 4-5; COL 3:12-21; MT 2:13-15, 19-23


For many of us the obligatory family gatherings are over.

Either we traveled to or had others travel to us in order to have common time again and share a meal. Ideally the gathering included attending a religious service or two together as in the olden days of our youth or maybe not? Fractures in faith are a part of modern life. Sometimes these fractures are severe.

Of course I am being dramatic!

But I ask you:

How uplifting was your Christmas gathering?

Were you able to set aside old grievances and the perceived new slights in favor of the holiness of family unity?

Perhaps this homily can be of help. Maybe you can read it without pre-loaded grievances and bias?


The Liturgy of the Hours reading this morning is straight forward. It describes honoring your mother and father in terms of your benefit.

Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God, has commanded you, that you may have a long life and prosperity in the land which the Lord, your God, is giving you. Deut 5:16

I think it is fair to say that the writer of this instruction knew that we must always account for our own self-interest or that, sadly, we are driven primarily by our own self-interest. It is the first commandment after the three commandments concerning how we relate to G-d (Protestants take note I am using the traditional accounting of the 10 commandments not the revised version).

Effects on Others

The first reading today offers a slightly elevated view taking one beyond self to otherness. Not only long life and prosperity but atonement for sin, preservation from future sin, joy in children and your prayers are always heard.

Even further and the part that begins to expand how we see family… he who obeys his father brings comfort to his mother. Ah, to see a happy mother is to know rightness.

Paul and the Colossians

Paul, like usual, takes us to the heart of the matter in regards to family life. Paul prescribes these things to ‘put on’ or to do/live:

  1. heartfelt compassion,
  2. kindness,
  3. humility,
  4. gentleness and patience,
  5. bearing with one another and forgiving one another.

Bond of Perfection – Love

Over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. Paul is a smart guy, yes? He prescribes an enabling methodology too:

  1. Gratitude
  2. Prayer
  3. Scripture
  4. Psalms and holy and spiritual songs.

Best for Last

Paul then lays out how to understand each other in order that peace is present within and between us. This is not the handcuffs of moralistic thinking. This is the liberation of thought and perspective. Don’t get weird on me.

Put down your pre-loaded thoughts and bias. Otherwise, you’ll miss it all.

Person Object Subject Intention Perspective – Circumstances
Wives Subordinate Husband Proper to Lord The standard is my reasonableness.
Husband Love Wife Non Bitterness The standard is my motivation.
Children Obey Parents Pleasing to Lord The standard is my unity.
Fathers No provoking Children Non Discouraging The standard is well being and growth.

If you cross the metric with your Parents now we see that none of these are specific to the role in the family but the fact you are family.

Person Object Subject Intention Perspective – Circumstances
Son/Dau Subordinate Mom/Dad Proper to Lord The standard is my reasonableness.
  Love Mom/Dad Non Bitterness The standard is my motivation.
  Obey Mom/Dad Pleasing to Lord The standard is my unity.
  No provoking Mom/Dad Non Discouraging The standard is well being and growth.


Gospel of Matthew

(People get annoyed with me and my focus on keeping a thread current)….

In the Gospel of Matthew we continue with the perspective of Joseph.

Let’s add his wife’s inner thoughts now.

Again the Angel of the Lord instructs Joseph this time to flee to Egypt. They are in great peril here with King Herod, the Great, wanting to kill this newborn king.

So they go to Egypt most likely to the Jewish Diaspora in Egypt/Libya (modern day) most likely to relatives of Joseph.

Perspective: we are going uninvited to my in-laws home in Egypt thought Mary and I don’t know how long I will be there.


The Angel again appears to Joseph in a dream, years later perhaps, saying it’s time to go back to Israel. But in hearing Archelaus was ruling Judea and being warned in a dream he diverted to Galilee. Foot note: imagine the quandary – into the pot or into the fire!

Perspective: ok, so now we are leaving our home place for Galilee where I have no family thought Mary and I don’t know how long I will be there either.


Can you imagine (humorously) the possible conflict points there were for this family?

How easily things could have fallen apart and family unity destroyed?

Communication v Communion

For a Catholic we celebrate the Eucharistic gift as Communion with the Lord and with one another. Cutting through our own pre-loaded thoughts and biases we are expected and given the strength to See and Hear God…. and one another.

In the secular world they even preach, if you will, Communication. We, as a gospel message, preach communion. Communion is beyond being clear about what I want, what I need and what I feel. Communion is entering into the wants, needs, and feelings of each other as a part of what we want, need, and feel together.

Go now and Communion.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

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