Fr. Jolly’s Homily for Sunday, December 30, 2018

Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph 2018

A few years ago, a study was undertaken to find the U.S. city with the lowest incidence of cancer and heart disease.  The winner was Rosetto, Pennsylvania. Soon experts and media people running around the city expecting to see a town populated by non-smokers, people who ate the right kind of food, took regular exercise and kept close track of their cholesterol.  To their great surprise, however, the researchers discovered that none of the above was true. They found instead that the city’s good health was related to the close family bonds and relatonships that prevailed within the community.   This suggests that there is much to be said for a close and loving family relationship. (Robert Duggan & Richard Jajac).  On the last Sunday of the calendar year, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family.  On this feast day we are offering our own families and all their members on the altar to ask God’s blessings upon them and to obtain for them the guidance of the Holy Family.

Scripture lessons:  The first reading, taken from the First Book of Samuel, describes how Elkanah and Hannah presented their child Samuel in the Temple, consecrated him to the service of the Lord as a perpetual Nazarite and left him in the Temple under the care of Eli, the priest.  In today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 128), the psalmist reminds us that happy homes are the fruit of our faithfulness to the Lord. In the second reading, John reminds us that, as children of God the Father, we are members of God’s own family, and as such we are expected to obey the greatest commandment of God: “Love one another,” so that we may remain united to God in the Holy Spirit.  In today’s Gospel, Luke concludes his detailed story of Christ’s infancy, with the events of Jesus’ visit to the Temple in Jerusalem at the age of twelve to become “a son of the Law” and to take up the obligations of the Law. Jesus lingered behind in the Temple, attending the Sanhedrin classes on religious and theological questions as an eager student of Mosaic Law.  Finally, when Mary and Joseph had found him in the Temple after three days of anxious search, Jesus explained to them that he was in his Father’s House. It was as if Jesus had had a blaze of realization (a supernatural enlightenment) about his Divine Son ship. The Gospel then summarizes the next 18 years of Jesus’ life, stating that Jesus grew up at Nazareth like any other young man, obeying his parents, faithfully satisfying all his duties to God, to his parents and to the community and “advancing in wisdom and age and favor before God and man.”

The Holy Family of Nazareth is before us by the Church this weekend as a model for our families. When we speak about “The Holy Family”, sometimes we mistakenly think that God dropped down the Holy Family in a string from heaven and everything was very easy for them to be holy family! My dear friends that is not the case!  Like any other family, the holy family also had to carry their fair share of problems and tragedies! We read in the Scriptures:

When Mary conceived Jesus through the Holy Spirit, how much emotional and mental struggle both Joseph and Mary went through! Who in the world is going to believe them? Nothing of this nature ever happened in the human history! Mary herself had very rough days early in the pregnancy when Joseph was planning to divorce her before the angel intervened in a dream. They had to give birth to their first borne in an animal shelter. The holy family had to run for their life to a faraway country in the middle of the night, as the king was looking for them to kill. Mary and Joseph suffered the awful experience of losing Jesus for three days when he was twelve years old and the only satisfaction they got from him was that he had to be about his Father’s business. We do not hear of Joseph any more so we presume that before Jesus began his public ministry in Galilee Joseph had died – The Holy Family suffering the greatest pain of all families, the pain of bereavement and separation through death. Jesus’ public ministry must have taken its toll on Mary. Simeon had predicted in the Temple that a sword of sorrow would pierce Mary’s soul. We can imagine one such occasion as we read in Mark 3:21 that when Jesus returned to Nazareth one day his relatives came to take him by force convinced that he was out of his mind. Not a very pleasant experience for any family, no matter how holy. There were all kinds of gossip going around about Jesus: “Behold a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax-collectors, prostitutes and sinners” (Luke 7:34). And there was the growing resentment and anger and hostility among the Jewish authorities that must have caused huge pain to both Mary and Jesus, especially as it became increasingly obvious that Jesus would have to pay for his mission by dying. The saddest moment of all came when Mary watched her son die on the cross when he was just 33 years old.

Recently an eighty years old man came to me crying. I asked him, why are you crying? He said, I am 80 years old and am wealthy. But I am very sad. Over the years, I had the wrong priorities in my life; making money, enjoying life, were the major ones. We went to church occasionally. We made plenty of vacation trips to fancy places, and plenty of ball games. We always had expensive car, big homes and all that we needed. God and family were not a priority in our lives. Everyone went in different directions. Today, my wife is very sick. I have five children. All of them are divorced; miserable and unhappy. I have several grandchildren; none of them have any relationship with us. Practically, I ruined my family and I will be dying as a very sad person. We had long conversation and at the end he said, please use my example in your homilies that others may not make the same mistake I did. For me it is too late to fix it. There are plenty people out there who are in the same predicaments.

What Makes a Family Holy and Happy? I have some suggestions for you. Do you pray as a family daily? A family that prays together stays together. We have to pray as a family every day! We need to make God the foundation of our family. Let’s build our house on solid rock of Jesus Christ. “The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. (Mathew 7:25) As Parents let’s practice faith consistently and faithfully and show them good example. Parents need to team up with teachers and pastors to raise holy children.  Some things you can do in the New Year:

  1. One Mass other than Sunday a week
  2. A monthly confession as a family
  3. Praying a rosary daily as a family
  4. Spending one hour a week with the Lord in the adoration chapel as a family.
  5. Reading a small passage from the Bible and pondering upon it and discussing with the children.
  6. Attending Sunday Masses consistently and faithfully at your parish family.

 

Parents need to spend quality time with Children. It’s not what you give your children help them grow emotionally and psychologically. They need your loving presence around them.  Meals together every day would be praiseworthy. Meals provide unparalleled opportunity for relationship, the likes of which cannot be found anywhere else. So much so, that a family that does not eat together does not grow together.

Let’s always remember ‘a rich life has nothing to do with money!