Holy Family

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2016/01/08 at 12:00 AM

• Today in the ancient calendar of the Church, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family, our annual reminder that family life is one of God’s most precious gifts to mankind.
• Perhaps after spending the holidays with your family members some of you beg to differ! It’s a sad reality for us priests that we often spend these first weekends of the year hearing confessions of sins committed against family members during Christmas!
• Sometimes nothing shows us just how much we need our dear Lord to come to us as man and redeem us like spending time with family members celebrating a holiday! But let us not despair, my brothers and sisters.
• For today’s feast day is both a feast of hope, and a feast that challenges us to live our lives within our families in a holy fashion.
• This feast day is a feast of hope because in the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph we see the possibilities for familial bliss. In them we find just how wonderful and well- ordered family life can be.
• Theirs was a life of perfect harmony, a life in perfect accord with the Father’s will. But we should note well that this does not mean their family was without suffering.
• We get a sense of some of what they suffered in our Gospel story today as we hear of how of Mary and Joseph suffered while Jesus was lost for 3 days in the Temple. Truly, no family – no matter how well ordered – escapes suffering.
• Family life will always have some suffering, no matter how holy it’s members may be. Indeed, while following God’s will brings us peace, it often entails some amount of suffering, just as it did for Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.
• What’s notable about the Holy Family is that they faced all of their sufferings with courage and with perfect obedience to God’s will. In doing so, Jesus, Mary and Joseph show us how to grow in holiness as we order our own families.
• Our epistle from St. Paul’s Letter to the Colossians gives us the basis for how to order our families properly, namely, that we should order our families with virtue.
• He tells us to put on: “mercy, benignity, humility, modesty, patience.” We are told to bear with one another, to forgive one another.” But above all, we are told to have charity, which he calls “the bond of perfection.”
• And even more, St. Paul calls us to seek out Christ’s peace, rejoicing in it in our hearts, and to be thankful. He tells us to allow the word of Christ to dwell within us, and to teach and admonish one another.
• Finally, St. Paul tells us to do all things in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. As we know from last Sunday’s Mass, there is great power in the Holy Name of Jesus – a power that not even the devil himself can overcome.
• So, in other words, as we live out our lives within our families, we should call upon the very power of Christ Himself so that all members of our families may grow in holiness. We should look to Christ to order our families properly.
• In the Rite of Marriage we are taught that marriage is a symbol of the love that Christ has for His Church. Therefore, marriage and family life should be ordered in a way that resembles the ordering of Holy Mother Church.
• As we all know, the Church has a hierarchy, with Christ as its head. Jesus is the Bridegroom, and we – the members of His Body – are His bride. Christ is our leader.
• If we were to continue reading from this same chapter of Colossians that we hear in our epistle today, we would find how St. Paul says that family life should be ordered.
• Namely, it is the husband who exercises the role of Christ within the domestic church.
• Therefore, the proper structure of family life calls husbands to lead and direct the
family as its head, while wives, placing themselves under their husband’s leadership
and protection, are called to be the heart of the family.
• St. Paul also reminds us of the duty children have to be obedient to their parents in all
things, always respectfully trusting in the authority of their parents.
• At the same time parents must make sure to treat their children well, not provoking
them or causing them to be discouraged in any way.
• But most importantly, St. Paul reminds us that we must in all things put on love. True
love must govern all of our familial relationships.
• To love someone means that we will, that we desire, what is best for that person. But
true love is also sacrificial, meaning that we must be willing to give of ourselves, to
sacrifice our own wants and desires, for the sake of those whom we love.
• When it comes to family life, showing love for one another ultimately requires that each
family member put aside all selfishness in order to care for the needs of the others.
• In practical terms this means that children should always share with their siblings,
giving deference to their brothers and sisters. It also means that kids should be quick to
obey their parents without complaint or hassle.
• For parents true familial love requires seeking first the salvation of your children,
placing that as the highest good. This in turn requires that you protect them from the evil and harmful influences that are so prevalent in our society, especially in the various forms of media.
• It means that you teach them our Catholic faith, ensuring that your children go to Mass each Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation, and that they receive the Sacraments. It means that you teach your children to pray, and to love and honor God.
• For spouses, true familial love is best expressed in constantly looking for ways to serve your spouse, caring for their needs above your own. It means praying for and with your spouse. It requires warm affection and a ready forgiveness when necessary.
• Ultimately, true familial love demands that we be willing to undergo any suffering whatsoever to help ensure that our family members go to Heaven. It means that we be willing to die to self for the sake of our family members.
• My dear brothers and sisters, family life is one of God’s greatest gifts to us. Let us strive to live it well, not simply for the natural pleasures that can be derived from it, but so that we can better prepare ourselves for eternal life with our heavenly family.

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio.
To enable the audio, lease go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

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