Feast of the Holy Family - homily
We can obviously apply this Gospel to today’s feast of the Holy Family. But, we can also look at one aspect of it in relation to tonight’s celebration of New Year’s Eve. Mary and Joseph were worried sick about Jesus – he was gone for 3 days! It’s not like Jesus was off partying or up to no good, he wasn’t. But, the point is that parents and loved ones worry about us if they don’t know where we are. Coming from someone who made his own mother sick with worry on many nights, not just New Year’s Eve, I can tell you it was not good. So, as we make our plans for tonight and carry them out, let us be thoughtful and considerate of our parents, spouses, and loved ones. Also, God wants us to enjoy life. There is nothing wrong with drinking alcohol if we are of legal drinking age. But, drunkenness is a sin. It is a serious sin. So, just be cool tonight. Be good and be safe.
The Holy Family is the ideal human family. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph mirror the Most Holy Family- God Himself: Father, Son, and Spirit. God is a family. He is a communion of love. The Holy Family is a family of love, faith, and joy. If we look more closely at what happened in their home, we see that they are all about love and forgiveness. But, we think, ‘poor St. Joseph’. With Mary being perfect and Jesus being perfect, when problems arose, guess who got blamed! If they had ‘reconciliation nights’ or something, I can see it now…’ok, Dad, it’s your turn again’. It must have gotten a little tiresome for him...
Love starts in the home. We first learn about love from our parents. We see the love they have for each other and for us. Then, we see the love our brothers and sisters have for us (hopefully!).
It was a home of faith. We know that Jesus, Mary, and Joseph prayed together. They prayed the psalms at different times of the day, etc. As the old saying goes, “the family that prays together stays together”. It is my hope that all of our families here at St. Andrew’s pray together. Mary and Joseph taught Jesus the Jewish faith. They taught him the customs and laws. We hear in the Gospel that Jesus grew in wisdom and understanding. It is also my hope that our parents are teaching their kids about Jesus and our faith in Him. The Church says that parents are the first teachers of the Gospel.
Parents have come up to me and said, “Father, I need to learn more myself about the faith in order to teach my kids. And, they are starting to ask questions”. As I am helping them with specific questions, I also remind them that the most significant way to teach is by example. It is a serious responsibility to teach by example. Hopefully, we are all giving a good example to our young ones of living the faith.
It was a home of joy. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph enjoyed life together, and they enjoyed each other. Mary and Jesus are fully human! They fully knew how to enjoy this life. And, for you young ones out there, we hear in today’s Gospel that Jesus was 12 years old. He was your age at one point! He played with his friends, and probably played sports (I'm sure he dominated!). He and his parents had fun, prayed together, and loved each other.
We all make up the human family. We are a universal family of God’s children. We hear in the second reading (from the first letter of St. John) that we are all God’s children. Locally, we are a parish family. We come together each week for our family meal. We gather around a table and hear God’s Word and receive the Eucharist, Jesus’ Body and Blood. We come because each of us needs to receive the Eucharist, but we do it as a community, as a family.
If there are family members who are not with us at Mass, our family is not complete. It is like when we sit down at our kitchen table and there are family members missing – the family is not complete. If our brothers and sisters are sitting at home saying that they worshipping God on their own, then that is not Christian. To worship as Christians means to worship as a family. So, we extend an explicit invitation to those family members who are not here to come back and join us at Mass.
We experience God’s love through our family, whether it’s the universal family, the parish family, or our own family. May each of us know the love God has for us – his powerful and intense love. May we know His love this day and in the New Year.