Sunday was the Feast of the Holy Family~
I am posting this wondrous sermon about families…..may your family be blessed in the new year:
FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY
It is tempting –and easy– to dismiss the humanity of Jesus. In fact, that is one of the worst and the oldest of heresies –wars have been fought over it. And yet even today people sometimes unconsciously endorse this view, that Jesus’ humanity was somehow just a mask, an identity he wore like Clark Kent to Superman. They see the precocious boy in the temple wowing the elders with his knowledge of scripture and simply chalk it up to the fact that He is the Son of God; that he got his knowledge of scripture from the Author Himself, or simply had, by virtue of his divine nature, a jump on everybody else. The Incarnation, the fact of God becoming in Jesus a human being, is the reason we celebrate Christmas; it is the deepest meaning of Christmas. But the Incarnation is not about a God who goes slumming in human disguise. It is about a God who becomes human the hard way, by being born and leading for the most part an ordinary human life. Jesus grew into his humanity, as we all do, by means of the nurture and influence and example of his family. Which is why we celebrate this feast today: to underscore this fact that Jesus is truly human. And in celebrating the fact of Jesus’ humanity, we underscore the dignity and sacredness of our own.
None of us can claim a Joseph or a Mary as father or mother. So we can be tempted, once again, to dismiss Jesus’ humanity as being somehow inauthentic, compared with ours, because our parents wore no haloes. But in the Gospel today you see something that is very much part of the ordinary human condition and certainly part of the experience of every family. And that is suffering. Imagine what they went through –Joseph and Mary– when Jesus turned up missing. Remember: it isn’t entirely clear, in the account of his birth, exactly what this child would become. So Mary and Joseph accepted their parental roles on faith. And perhaps there lies the lesson for us on this Feast of the Holy Family.
You don’t get a choice. That’s a given with families. You don’t get to choose what family you’re born into. But you do get to choose what you make of it. And if the members of a family are to nurture each other, then in various ways each must embrace –in faith—some measure of suffering, and sacrifice their wants and even their needs for the sake of the others, strictly out of love for them. This is the essence of what makes us truly human in the first place, and indeed that our suffering can serve such a purpose is part of the very meaning of the redemption won for us by Christ on the Cross.
Traditional family life is under assault from many directions in modern society, but what matters most in the first and second readings today is not merely the assertion of traditional family roles, but rather to commend what underlies and supports them. What enables a child to grow up as Jesus does in the Gospel, “advanc[ing] in wisdom and age and favor before God and man” is the virtues that those traditional roles are meant to impart, described in the readings: honor, love, humility, reverence, kindness, justice, compassion, gentleness, patience. It was the constant parental example of such virtues that helped to form that particular child and will help any child to grow into the man or woman that he or she is called by God to be. So however our families are constructed, and whatever defects they may have, may the very human example of Mary, Joseph and Jesus instruct us in the meaning of our own humanity –made sacred by the shared humanity of Christ—and help us to make our own families Holy.
— Fr. Michael Walsh, M.M.