Monday, January 1, 2018

My homily for the Feast of the Holy Family

Well Merry Christmas everyone; yes today is still Christmas and I pray all of us are still celebrating Christmas today and throughout the entire Christmas season!
On this 7th day of Christmas Holy Mother Church gives us the Feast of the Holy Family.  Now my first exposure to the Holy Family came from my grandmother, who was in charge of taking care of me and my two sisters when we were young and rambunctios.  We knew she must be devoted to the Holy Family because all throughout the day we always heard her declare:"Jesus, Mary and Joseph"!
My family keeps on growing as my 3rd grandchild is on the way this coming March and we just had an unforgettable visit with our North Carolina grandchildren, Calvin & Katelyn.  Whoever our families are, in whatever state our families may be, all the good, bad and ugly families can experience families are intended by God to be a great gift.
As people of faith, we are called to follow the example of the Holy Family, Jesus, Mary and Joseph!
Now we all know that in the life of the Church we have 3 distinct liturgical years.  This year, we heard proclaimed the story from St. Luke's Gospel of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple.  We may recall that the other two Gospels proclaimed on this Feast day include the Holy Family fleeing to Egypt, to protect the very life of the baby Jesus and the finding of the adolescent Jesus teaching in the Temple.  All beautiful Gospels recording the time Jesus, Mary and Joseph were together as a family in the pages of Scripture.
Today's themes for the Feast of the Holy Family very well could be faith, obedience and trust.  In our 1st reading from Sirach, written just about 200 years before the birth of Jesus, these virtues are present.  In a Jewish family of this era honor in the home brought blessings and peace.  Obedience and trust of a child to their parents is directly tied to our relationship with God.  Mary and Joseph would know this reading and the promise of it's message.
Faith, obedience and trust dominate our Gospel reading too.  Mary and Joseph, being fully obedient to the Father, present Jesus in the Temple, declare His name, and offer the prescribed sacrifice in thanksgiving.  At the Temple we meet Anna and Simeon who in their faithfulness waited patiently to see with their own eyes the salvation promised to the world.  They both trusted and were obedient to the Father.
The closing words of today's Gospel sum up the virtues of faith, obedience and trust:
The child grew, became strong, was filled with wisdom and the favor of God was upon Him.
Inspired by this feast day and the readings proclaimed we can do our part to insure the holiness of the family.  We start with our own families, we can practice the virtues of faith, obedience and trust.  A good place to start is prayer within the family, praying together, praying for one another and with one another.  One more thing, to have strong holy families we must stand strong as Catholics in defending the family and speaking out against all attacks on the family in our communities, culture and our politics.  We must, in firmness of faith, stand against abortion, euthanasia, so called same sex marriage, the devaluing of the role of a father and the dismissal of the importance of children.
We can and will overcome these attacks on the family; all we have to do is follow the faith, obedience and trust of the Holy Family, Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

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