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Fr. Matthew's Homily Notes Dec. 31, 2017

 

Let us observe a minute’s silence to remember the family members for whom you are grateful:  thank God for them, both living and dead; we remember the deceased members of our Parish family- Let us prayfor the Holy Family of Sacred Heart Parish: “We bless your name, O Lord, for sending your own incarnate Son this Christmas to become part of our family, so that, as He lives with us, He will experience our worries and our joys.

We ask you, Lord, to protect and watch over all families gather here today, so that in the strength of your grace its members may enjoy prosperity, in  2018 and possess the priceless gift of your peace, and, let the Church be alive in their homes, so that they may bear witness in this world to your glory. We ask this through Christ our Lord.” Amen

The Christian family is a 'domestic church'. Our extended church community is a family of families. Today’s feast is to highlight the importance of family and the focus of the Church on trying to support and enhance family life. The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph was a small and Holy unit, it was from them that Jesus learned the best things of human life – how to care and how to love; He looked after His widowed mother, Mary and earlier, He nursed His foster-father, Joseph, an elderly father-figure who loved and protected Him; He learned the give and take of the extended family life, and from that family He learned about His Jewish faith and how to pray.  His family is holy because it was a place of LOVE.

Pope Francis says that: ‘every family is always a light, however faint, amid the darkness of this world.’  Even in difficult and broken families, living in a society rampant with crime, addiction and conflict of every kind, there is a light and love in the hearts of its members. (Philadelphia Sept. 2015).

This is a feast to teach and encourage us in giving thanks, in sharing love and always in being there for every member of our family. In a way every family is a holy family – the family is the place of love, despite its flaws and attempt to love, and a place of love in times of great joy. 

If you look around our church on Sundays there is a difference in the congregation which includes family units and Sacred Heart is indeed one family: here we are baptized, nourished, healed, married and from here we say our final goodbyes. We also welcome visitors from other churches, they are an integral part of our Sacred Heart Community, and our doors are always open, as we embrace everyone who enters our house of worship.

 

There is always something special about the young and old sitting together, on the same pew; they are our hope and represent the different generations that built our Church community, and this always cheers us up.  Family is the first natural grouping, no matter what its makeup consists; that is why ‘blood is thicker than water’ - your family is also a holy family.

Mary and Joseph are models for us – models of patient expectation and openness to God. Today’s gospel might suggest that we are the same. But are we open to God’s surprising love; are we flexible enough to change our expectation of God and accept His Will for our families? If we can live like Mary and Joseph did, God will shower blessings upon our families.

The documents of the Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium (“Light of the Nations”), describes the family as the ‘domestic Church’ - "a people made one with the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit." - Jesus chose to be born and grow up in the bosom of the Holy Family of Joseph and Mary so that the Church may become "the Holy Family of God." In his letter to the Colossians (3:12-17) St. Paul gives us the hallmark of a Holy Family:

As holy people whom God has chosen and loved, be sympathetic, kind, humble, gentle, and patient. Put up with each other, and forgive each other if anyone has a complaint. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Above all, be loving. This ties everything together perfectly. Also, let Christ’s peace control you. God has called you into this peace by bringing you into one body. Be thankful. Let Christ’s word with all its wisdom and richness live in you. Use psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to teach and instruct yourselves about God’s kindness. Sing to God in your hearts. Everything you say or do should be done in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” [God’s Word Translation (GW)]

Happy New Year and Happy Feast of the Holy Family!



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