Saturday, December 26, 2015

Feast of the Holy Family

Holy Family Year C 2015:
Today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family.  Every year on the Sunday following Christmas we celebrate this important feast.  It is a chance for us to look at the Holy Family of Nazareth for intercession and guidance.  It’s a feast where each of us can thank God for our families as well as ask God for help in our families.  None of our families will ever replace the Holy Family, but our prayer should always be that our families be holy.
Our scriptures today shed some light on what it means to be a holy family.  In the first reading we heard that Hannah remembered the promise she made to the Lord.  She also remembered all the good that the Lord had done for her.  These two acts of remembering led her to the temple to worship and praise God, but also to entrust her son to God’s protection.  Now, I’m not saying that we should just leave our kids here at church.  But, I am saying that it important for us to make these same acts of rememberance.  We have all made promises to the Lord.  If you are married, you made promises on the day of your wedding.  I made promises on the day of my ordination.  If you are single, you made promises on the day of your baptism.  We are all called to be in closer union with Christ.  But, we don’t just remember obligations, we also remember all that the Lord has done for us.  If we do so we will grow in happiness and holiness.  I heard a statistic yesterday: just by keeping a thanksgiving journal people responded that it helped them grow in happiness by 25%.  Hannah remembered what the Lord had done, and she went to the temple to worship.
Then we hear the story in the gospel.  It’s one of my favorite stories.  I just love trying to imagine the scene when Joseph and Mary realize that Jesus wasn’t there.  Imagine the dread they must have felt.  I can just hear Mary saying, “how do I explain to the angel that I lost the son of God?”  They were so busy, so distracted by the feast that they lost track of their son, they lost track of Jesus.  Don’t we have a tendency to do the same thing?  We can get distracted and busy, we can lose track of our relationship with Christ.  If Mary and Joseph could do it, so can we!
In both readings we hear that the solution was found in returning to the temple.  Hannah went to the temple in good times, Mary and Joseph went to the temple in bad times.  In both occasions, it was a source of blessing for them.
We want our families to be holy right?  So we learn a lesson from the scriptures.  In good times or in bad times, the important thing is going to the temple.  I think that many people misunderstand our obligation for attending Mass.  We all know that we have to go to Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation.  But, why?  Why doesn’t the church just relax these rules?  I mean, we are busy right?  It’s precisely because of the absolute zaniness of our lives that the church insists on Mass obligations.   There are just too many things out there to distract us.  There’s sports practices, after school activities, television, internet, new Star Wars movies, video games, etc.  There is just so much that can pull us in many different directions.  The Sunday Mass helps us to get focused.  It helps us to center our lives on Christ.  Our weekly returning to this temple for worship and praise is not just some obligation.  Rather, it’s powerful medicine.  Whether in good times or in bad, we come to this temple to worship and praise almighty God.  Here at the Mass we find grace and strength.  Today we celebrate this Mass in honor of that Holy Family of Nazareth.  May this Holy Mass give to all of our families the grace and strength to become holy families as well.

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