Feast Of The Holy Family 2019
Fr. Mark Gatto
Preached: December 29, 2019
The Holy Family versus our families.
For many of us when we look at our families perhaps we think of them as more dysfunctional rather than holy! It is therefore sometimes hard to see the Holy Family as an image for us and our families. It seems to be some model outside of our reality.
Well, look at this Holy Family. Joseph, Mary, Jesus. It all began with what would have been a great scandal. Mary is pregnant before they were together. In fact, Joseph’s first plan was to quietly dismiss Mary. Mary was frightened, probably very confused by this situation. All of their plans for their life together were turned upside down.
They also faced the reality of being an oppressed people by the overpowering Roman Empire. At the time of the birth of Jesus, they were away from home, had no place to stay.
Then their early years were spent as refugees in a foreign land. We see so many refugees in our world today, forced to flee their home and country due to various dangers. Joseph, Mary and Jesus we see in today’s Gospel, were also refugees who had to flee their homeland for their safety.
Joseph and Mary also faced the challenges of being parents, we know from the story when Jesus was about 12 and gets left behind in the Temple. Any of you parents who have been worried about your children for any reason will know the worry that they felt.
The end of this family came with the crucifixion of Jesus, punished as a criminal. His whole mission and project seemingly ending in failure.
This Holy Family faced as many or more challenges than our own families. Everything did not go smoothly for them. From appearances it was unlikely that anyone would have seen them as particularly holy or special. Just a regular family with the same struggles that most families face in this world.
So, what made them Holy? Jesus, the Son of God, was in the midst of this family. The presence of God dwelled in the heart of this family. Our families can also be holy when we allow Jesus to dwell in the midst of our family, when we allow the presence of God to be in the heart of our family. We do that by praying together, by celebrating the Sacraments together, by praying for each other. We do that by forgiving one another and caring for each other when in need.
Many today might say that is not possible, no one else in my family believes in God, few in my family pray or are trying to live as a disciple of Jesus. But, if there is just one member of a family who is praying, one member of a family celebrating the Sacraments, one member of a family praying for the others. Then God continues to dwell within that family.
You may be the one person who keeps the presence of God alive within your family. Your quiet prayer, your prayer for the others in your family, this keeps alive the presence of Jesus and so your family can be called holy.
Our somewhat dysfunctional families can be connected to the Holy Family when we keep Jesus in our families, when we keep the presence of God in our families, even if it is just one member who is doing that.
Feast of the Holy Family
Fr. Mark Gatto
Preached: December 30, 2018
A Japanese magazine had a picture of a butterfly on one of its pages, that was a dull grey, until someone puts their hand on it. Then the warmth of the hand causes the special printing inks to react and the dull grey is transformed into flashing colours.
What other things can be transformed by the warmth of your love and your touch? How about your family? Or your place of work? Or the place where you study? Or your parish?
The world is hungry for the warmth and touch of someone who cares – who really cares.
First Letter of John says, “Beloved: see what love the Father has given us that we should be called children of God.” The children of God. Then we should have the warmth of the love of God. We are to touch one another with the warmth of someone who really cares.
The hardest and most important thing that most do in life is family life. Forming a healthy loving family is really hard. If we are honest, most of us have somewhat dysfunctional families, there are things that we admit are not so good. Obviously, because families are formed by human beings, who are sinners, sometimes selfish, sometimes insensitive… So, our families are not so perfect, not so holy, we certainly do not see our families as being compared to the Holy Family.
Yet, God places children in the care of families. Trusts children to human families. So, we need to do the best we can with what we have in our families. The first step is that I put God first. For when I love and obey God first, then I will become the best parent, the best child, the best sibling. For when I love and obey God then I will be honest, I will be committed, I will be faithful, I will keep promises, I will care about others, I will forgive. All of the things required for good, healthy family life. There is a poem that many of you may have already seen before, but I will share it today because it reflects a spirit that is important in all family life.
“If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn . . .
If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight . . .
If a child lives with fear, he learns to be apprehensive . . .
If a child lives with pity, he learns to feel sorry for himself . . .
If a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shy . . .
If a child lives with jealousy, he learns to feel envy . . .
If a child lives with shame, he learns to feel guilty …
If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient . . .
If a child lives with encouragement, he learns to be confident . . .
If a child lives with praise, he learns to be appreciative . . .
If a child lives with acceptance, he learns to love . .
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves..
If a child lives with honesty, he learns what truth is . . .
If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice . . .
If children live with recognition, they learn to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn to be generous.
If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith in himself and those about him . .
If a child lives with friendliness, he learns the world is a nice place in which to live.
The human family, the church family and each of our individual families are in need of people who bring the warmth of love, who bring the touch of someone who really cares.