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Pastor's Letter 20231231 - 31 December 2023 - Feast of the Holy Family

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December 31st, 2023


Feast of the Holy Family

A Message from Father Michael

Today’s Theme:  “Family Life”

Reflections on Today’s Scripture

(Genesis 15:1-6; 21:1-3)  Abraham put his faith in God, Who promised the him and his wife, Sarah, an heir and innumerable descendants.  It was credited to him as an act of “righteousness.”  Through that act, God made the family a sign of His love and the faith of human beings


(Hebrews 11:8-11; 12:17-19)  The faith of Abraham and Sarah is stressed, in the manner in which God’s promise to them was fulfilled.  That faith was lived in every phase of Abraham’s life, and has become the source of hope and happiness for the family.


(Luke 2:22-40)  Luke relates the presentation and consecration of Jesus in the temple, and also provides us with a glimpse of His life at Nazareth.  From within the human family, the Incarnate Word first began to speak and reveal to all the peoples of the earth the familial bonds of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  In so doing, every aspect of human development has become a manifestation of God’s goodness and wisdom.


The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple

How blessed are we, that the resurrected Lord came into His temple, to remain with us!  In the Holy Eucharist, under the appearance of ordinary bread and wine, Jesus enters our very bodies!  In our Baptism, He took up residence in the temple of our hearts, as well.  By the shedding of His blood, and the outpouring of His Spirit, He has purified us and delivered us from death (Malachi 3:2-3.)

Like Simeon and Anna, let us prepare ourselves for our encounter with our Blessed Lord.  We also may be surprised to meet Him in those we see around us—the poor and the helpless; the sick and the dying.  He is always waiting for us in His temple—in the Holy Eucharist—waiting for us to embrace Him and hold Him close to our hearts.  His love—stronger than any sin we may commit—will purify us.  Then, like Simeon, we will be filled with His peace; and like Anna, we will give thanks to God.

The Meaning of the Family

There is no reason to believe that either Mary or Joseph had a clear understanding of the full identity or the great destiny of their Child, Jesus.  Nevertheless, in welcoming Him into their lives, and in bringing Him up in faith and love, they played their part in helping Him realize His destiny.  Today’s Gospel Reading shows they provided the kind of atmosphere in which He was able to grow—and thrive—to maturity.  

Every child is a gift from God, each with an unique destiny.  But regularly, that destiny is hidden from the parents.  They wonder what will become of their children.  Although they may want “the best” for them, all they can do is “launch” them on their way.  Having given them life, parents must allow them the freedom to live their lives in the manner of their own choosing.  Above all, children must learn acceptable parameters of behavior, so as not to obstruct their paths, nor be of detriment to others.  Employing their faith in God, parents must strive successfully guide their children to make good choices for their lives.  They should instruct them as to the consequences of making bad choices, and cultivate a personal responsibility for their actions in them.  

Altogether, the family should be a little community of love—as portrayed for us in our understanding of the Holy Family.  The “atmosphere” of our homes is all important, and determines the quality of the interpersonal relationships that children will develop throughout their lives.

There is a big difference between a home, and a “house.”  Whereas a house is where people keep their furniture and belongings, a home is where people live together.  Some houses may be “neat and tidy,” yet they don’t seem to be a place where anyone really “lives”—sometimes being more like “museums” than like homes.  On the other hand, warm, loving homes are like a “well-thumbed book,” in which it’s obvious to anyone that the people who live there know how to relax, love and enjoy one another.  

Ideally a home is the place to which we can always return, and be sure we are welcome.  It is that special dwelling on earth where we taste the joy and peace of the place God has prepared for us, in heaven.  Ideally, for us,  “There’s no place like home” (as we heard Glinda urge Dorothy to say.*)

To be sure, family life can be quite fragile, and often it is challenging.  Living together can result in many stresses and difficulties.  Yet, in spite of everything, many parents make enormous sacrifices for their children.  All such parents can draw inspiration from the example of the Holy Family.  Life at home can’t only be about “receiving;” it also must be concerned with “giving.”  Learning how to balance between the two is one of the many benefits of a solid family environment.  Our family ties enrich us, but along with “self-worth,” children also must be taught how to manage their responsibilities and still maintain their independence.  

Even though our modern, progressive, socially-permissive world is embroiled with contrary opinions on this subject, in all of human history, no substitute for a healthy family has ever been found.  The nuclear family reigns supreme as the most successfully formative unit for human development.  

* (https://youtu.be/ooM-RGUTe2E?si=iYpND4lIPU421GEl)

May God Richly Bless You!



Come, Share, Rejoice!.docx

To view a recording of today's Holy Mass, click here:

* (https://youtu.be/ooM-RGUTe2E?si=iYpND4lIPU421GEl)

Edited by Father Michael
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