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Pastor's Letter 20201227 - 27 December 2020 - Family Life

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December 27th, 2020

Feast of the Holy Family

Today’s Theme:   “Family Life”  


A Message from Father †Michael

Reflection on Today’s Scripture Selections

Our First Reading today stresses the “giftedness” of Isaac (Genesis 15:1-6; 21:1-3.)  In Old Testament times, childlessness was seen as a curse.  But Christians no longer regard it in this way.  While it might be a source of great sadness for some, it should not be viewed as a punishment from God.  

When we encounter him today, Abraham was sad and worried because he had no heir.  But he was faithful that God would send him one; and through that heir, numerous descendants would be born.  Through his lineage, specifically from Joseph, all the nations of the world received the blessing of the person of Jesus, the Christ.  

Meanwhile, our Second Reading stresses Abraham and Sarah’s great faith—having put their trust in God they were not disappointed (Hebrews 11:8-11-12:19.)  When a man and a woman marry, they give each other a lifelong commitment to be faithful and loving.   Marriage offers many challenges to those promises, but with faith in God, life is easier.  

We can always turn to our Father in times of difficulty, because we know that He is totally reliable.  Seeking God’s wisdom enables parents to find the best ways in which they should rear their children.  Passing faith on to children is enhanced when the family engages in prayer together. (I have many happy childhood memories of weekly Rosaries with my family, growing up.)

Then, today’s Gospel talks about the rejection of Jesus, which would cause “a sword of sorrow” to pierce His mother’s heart (Luke 2:22-40.)  The events surrounding the conception and birth of Jesus marked Him as a Child with an unique destiny.  Through Him the promise to Abraham was fulfilled, as He became the hope and comfort to Israel and a light to all nations.  Parents share in the joys and the sorrows of their children—and vice versa.  

The Holy Family

We tend to see the Holy Family’s home as a place where perfect harmony and complete understanding always reigned.  More likely, their lives were quite similar to others of their community in the first century AD.  Through romanticized reflection, we may have an idealized picture of the life shared by Jesus, Mary and Joseph.  But the best available scholarship showed theirs was a simple life, lived in a lowly house at Nazareth (the greatest holiness in the humblest possible living conditions.)   No evidence has been found to support the view that  they were graced with regular visits by angels whispering in their ears about impending danger.  We should not suppose they never had doubts about life, or were compelled to agonize over decisions. Nonetheless, between the events which marked our Savior’s birth and the beginning of His public life, the Church has seen fit to recall each year their great example of the “family unit,” which Christians have ever taken as their inspiration; and which will always remain the sanctification of family life.   The Gospels don’t tell us much about the daily life of the Holy Family.  All we have are glimpses…but they are enough to show us they had their share of everyday difficulties.

These are a few examples we have gleaned from the evangelists:  

•    From the beginning, Joseph and Mary could not find lodging where Jesus could be born; Then, their joy at His birth was short-lived because He immediately became a target of Herod’s murderers; they were forced to flee to a foreign country (Egypt,) where they experienced life as aliens; following that, upon returning to their own country, they settled in Nazareth.  

•    On another occasion, when Jesus was twelve years old, He became lost to His parents during a visit to Jerusalem, who then sought Him with fear and trepidation;

•    During His public life, Mary didn’t always understand Jesus’ activities.   Fearing He was being taken over by the crowds, she made a vain attempt to rescue Him.  Later she saw the tide of public opinion turn against him and the net of authority close around Him.   Finally, there was the ignominy of the crucifixion, when a sword of sorrow pierced her heart as a real spear pierced Jesus’ heart.

Reflecting on these few events, no one could claim the Holy Family lived a sheltered and trouble-free life.  All families, before and since Jesus’ time, have been visited by sorrow, misunderstandings and problems of one kind or another.  Because the Holy Family knew sorrow, trouble and pain, their great faith can serve as a model for us.

In our technologically developed world, witness continued, widespread failure and attacks upon the traditional family and its values.  Increasingly, we find more “single parent,” and “no parent” families.  We know of parents’ shirking their responsibility to instill filial respect for authority; and a rising tide of juvenile delinquency.  

Of course, no easy remedies are available to abate our modern family crisis.  Christian families are part of a culture in which many diverse participants cooperate and compete—from neighborhoods, schools, media influences, friends, and social interactions.  Similarly, in stormy weather a ship may be lost unless it gets some guidance from a beacon!   Authority needs to be defined from the age of earliest infancy through young adulthood, and not be done away with, as some progressive theories seem to purport.  Parents must exercise control of their children while they are young, providing acceptable parameters of behavior in order for them to mature with a healthy appreciation for their roles in life.  A substitute for sound family life has not yet been offered by any of the behavioral sciences!

So, we can presume the Holy Family had to struggle and make sacrifices.  But these are precisely what form bonds between people.   We tend to be closer to one another in hard times than in good ones.  There is nothing like shared hardships to bring people closer together (Consider the wealth of cooperation demonstrated by people following the national tragedies of 9-11, or hurricane Katrina.)  Greater depth is found in the relationships of people who have weathered storms together.   Holiness is the fruit of sacrifice and struggle.   Ideally, there is “no place like home.” But there rarely is such a place as an ideal home.  

Every human being has an unique destiny, which, for the most part, is hidden during the formative years. Parents wonder about the future for their children, naturally wanting the best for them.  Having given them life, and sound parental examples, all they can do is “launch them” on their way, and allow them freedom to live their lives on their own.  In doing so, they must guard against   obstructing their potential. Family life can be a very challenging “balancing act” between giving and receiving.  Whereas family ties of duty and love enrich us, sometimes they might also “tie us down.”  

Parents should ask the Holy Spirit to guide their children, granting them the wisdom to make good choices—something everyone needs, in order to maximize our potential.   Essentially, the ideal family is a community of love, where the atmosphere in the home is determined by the quality of the relationships among family members, to which parents and children jointly contribute.

May God Richly Bless You!

“In family life, love is the oil that eases friction; the cement that binds ; And the music that brings harmony.”

~~Fredrich Nietzsche~~   

To view a live stream of today's Holy Mass, click here:  https://youtu.be/aEkycynIpXA


Kneeling at the Manger.docx

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.mp3



Edited by Father Michael
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