Feast of the Holy Family - homily
December has been a great month here at St. Andrew’s. It really has been impressive to see our parish family make such a good Advent preparing the Birth of Christ. Many people came out for Friday night Adoration, during our Advent series. Also, there were many who used the sacrament of Reconciliation during the month. There should have been a lot more, but I heard many beautiful confessions. Hearing confessions is my favorite part of being a priest, so this has been my favorite month here. Of course, we also had so many people coming out for the Christmas masses, some of our family members who we hadn’t seen for a while. We have a great parish family, and it has definitely been felt this past month. I think it all starts at the top with our spiritual father, Fr. Mike. He is a great shepherd! He is also very cool – when the Redskins won last week, he immediately offered to take my 6 pm Mass tonight so that I could, ahem, watch today's game. Pastor of the year!
It’s fitting that we talk about our parish family on today’s feast of the Holy Family. The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph is the model for all families. Now, the wives who are here are especially promoting this as the model because of the situation between the wife (Mary) and the husband (Joseph) – a perfect wife who has to continually deal with the imperfections of her husband! I can hear you ladies now saying, “That’s what I’m talking about”! And, I’m sure it couldn’t have been easy for Joseph to deal with Mary’s perfection!
The Holy Family is the model for all Christian families because they lived out the virtues on a consistent basis. They lived charity, generosity, kindness, and all the virtues. Underlying all of this was a mutual respect for each other. Mary and Joseph had profound respect for the other and Jesus, and Jesus was respectful and obedient to his parents. This point about respect is highlighted by the Church as well as Scripture. If we read about the family in the Catechism of our Church, we see that respect among family members is among the most important qualities of a Christian family. In our second reading today, St. Paul is stressing that husbands and wives should respect one another, and that children should be respectful of their parents in obedience. I would also add that parents should respect their kids; many parents of teenagers have come to me when problems arise, and I emphasize to them that they remind their teens of the respect and trust they have for them. Respect is to be mutual with all family members.
The families at St. Andrew’s seem to get all of this! You all respect for and love one another! I have seen many examples of this. I have seen families come out and serve the parish together. So many families come to Mass here together which is becoming more of a rarity in our world. Families have fun here together. And, families pray together; we have had many families attend Friday night Adoration together. One of the biggest slogans of the Church regarding families is “the family that prays together stays together”. We have such a great parish family because we have so many great individual families.
Finally, one of our parents recently told me how strict she is with her family's nightly meal. We are equally as firm with our parish family's weekly meal, the Eucharist. We all need to come here every Sunday for our family meal. We are not whole whenever we have empty seats in Church; it’s like having empty chairs at the dinner table. If we know those who take a week or two or maybe more off from coming here, we should invite them to join us every week so that we can be united around the table of the Lord. As we receive our spiritual food – the Body and Blood of our Lord – let us leave here and imitate the love and respect of the Holy Family. In doing so, let us imitate the love and respect of the Most Holy Family – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit.