4 thoughts on “HOly Family

  1. Today’s homily from Fr Rich at Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh:

    The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, 12-26-21

    “The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other. “—William E. Vaughan (1915-1977), American columnist and author

    Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family–, first observed in 1921 on the Sunday within the octave of Epiphany and then in 1969 moved to Sunday within the octave of Christmas. But first and foremost, the Feast of the Holy Family is part of the Christmas season. The blessings of family are at the very heart of God’s plan of salvation. As a family Jesus, Mary, and Joseph faced an uncertain world with faith and we celebrate their steadfast courage, compassion, and commitment.

    It is in the family that we learn right from wrong, to share and care, unconditional love and forgiveness, discipline and values, respect and appreciation, honor and duty, dreams and hopes, prayer and faith. It’s within the home that we learn about the ‘nitty-gritty’, the give and take of daily living, and it’s in daily living of family life with its challenges and joys—becomes a path to holiness. It’s also with in the family that parents—as the first and primary educators—proclaim the Gospel and lead their children to Christ. By being born into a family Jesus has sanctified the fundamental building block of every healthy society. Let us not forget that Jesus is human as well as divine.

    Pope Francis said— “Each Christian family can—as Mary and Joseph did—welcome Jesus, listen to him, speak with him, guard him, protect him, grow with him; and in this way improve the world. Let us make room in our heart and in our day for the Lord. The family of Nazareth urges us to rediscover the vocation and the mission of the family, of every family.” To welcome Jesus in the family in each member—husband, wife, children, brothers and sisters, grandparents.

    Our personality develops in the family, by growing up with mom and dad, our brothers and siters, by breathing in the warmth of the home. The family is the place that we receive our name, is the place of affection, the space of intimacy, where one acquires the art of dialogue and interpersonal communication. The “good news” of the family is a very important part of evangelization, which Christians can communicate to all, by the witness of their lives; and already they are doing so …evident in secularized societies. Truly Christian families are known by their fidelity, their patience, and their openness to life, and by their respect for the elderly …the secret to this is the presence of Jesus in the family.

    Every human person owes his or her life to a mother and owes much to her of what follows in life, both human and spiritual formation. The center of the life of the Church is the mother of Jesus. Mothers are the strongest antidote to the spread of self-centered individualism. A mother’s witness of love, tenderness, dedication, loyalty, sacrifice, faith, and moral strength is invaluable to our well-being.

    Every family needs a father. The first need is that a father is present in the family—close to his wife to share everything, joy and sorrow, hope and hardship. And that he be close to his children as they grow. A good father is a protector, provider, ever patient, forgiving, firm in discipline and correction, a good role model and example of Christian love.

    The joy of children causes the parents hearts to beat and reopens the future. Children are a gift,

    a blessing, and a treasure. Each child is unique, an original, irreplaceable, different, diverse. Each child is loved because he/she is one’s child. Let us think about our parents and thank God for the gift of life.

    “Brother” and “sister” are wording that Christianity really loves and thanks to the family experience, they are words that all cultures and all times comprehend. The psalmist sings of the beauty of fraternal bond: “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” (Psalm 133:1) But when there is frictions, factions, sibling rivalries, ruptures, conflicts, betrayals, or hatred this is bad for humanity. In the family too, how many siblings quarrels over little things, or over an inheritance and they no longer speak to each other, they no longer greet one another. This is terrible! Let us seek to reunite and rebuild the bonds of our family relationships and especially pray for siblings who are at odds.

    Old age is a vocation. The prayer of grandparents and the elderly is a great gift for the Church, it is a treasure! A great injection of wisdom from experience and lived life. Grandfather and grandmothers form a wonderful “chorus” of a great spiritual sanctuary. How important grandparents are for family life, for passing on the human and religious heritage which is so essential for each society. The words and examples of grandparents have special value for the young.

    No family is immune from problems, difficulties, and challenges. Oftentimes, we try and avoid hard times by moving from spouse to spouse, job to job, house to house, friend to friend, unconsciously searching for a problem- free situation. Our restless changing indicates we are running from life, running from ourselves. We will never find ourselves and become all we are meant to be by running. We only discover and bring birth to our real selves by living as fully and realistically as possible in the “now” not in the “if only. God’s homes address is reality.

    None of God’s children are not perfect—including parents. Wounds and hurts are part of every life. To resolve problems in any relationships, men and women need to speak to one another more, listen to each other more, get to know each other better, love one another more. They must treat one another with honor and respect and cooperate in friendship. We are called to be a holy family, not a perfect family. I remember one of my nephews in fourth grade saying to me— “Uncle Rich, you say that you love me, but why don’t you come visit me more often?” That hit me like a two-by-four over the head! Lesson well learned.

    God’s love extends through all generations, with enduring mercy for humanity’s sinfulness. Reconciliation heals our brokenness and reunites us with Jesus and into one Holy Family. Let us love one another, forgive one another, pray for one another, and grow with one another as a family.

    Two years ago on December 17, 2019, my first pastor died the age of 90-year-old. His 65-year-old nephew offered the eulogy at his funeral for his uncle. He began by saying—”Would everyone in the church please stand up if you have a religious in your family—a priest, brother, sister, or religious who say give their lives to God and his Church. Then after those folks sat down , he went on to say –it makes the family more loving, more peaceful , and more e focused on God and what he wants for our lives.” As a priest I see that family life confers countless graces throughout a life-time—security in God’s love, serenity, sanity, sanctity, and salvation. MY life work and mission is the formation of the human heart, passionate love for God’s family, and a longing for God kingdom to come. The USCCB preaching on the

    Mystery of Faith #34 states—” The true pastor and good shepherd knows his people’s sorrows, their anxieties, their weaknesses, their capacity for love, and their deepest longings.”

    As a visiting guest priest on this Holy Family Sunday, I am inspired by uplifting singing and praying; the lovely, decorated Church and creche; and the reverence of those who have gone before us in the faith and those yet to come. There is no greater feeling in the world than to be in the house of the Lord worshipping with God’s family. As shepherd and flock, may we walk together through the dark valley of history towards thew green pastures of eternity.

    I received a card at Christmas that says it simply to conclude— ‘Christmas Blessings… the joy of family, the treasure of friends, the miracle of God’s love.’

    Father Richard S. Jones

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