Holy Family

Holy Family

Joy Amidst Uncertainty

Holy FamilyFeast Of The Holy Family 2020

Deacon Robin Mendonca

Posted: December 27, 2020

The Holy Family lived During a Time of Uncertainty  

When we think of the Holy Family, of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, we tend to think that here is the perfect family. The images we see during the Christmas season of the nativity scene are quite endearing, however, the gospels show us Jesus, Mary and Joseph lived in a time of great uncertainty. In many ways their times and our times have some similarities. They might not have been in a lockdown because of COVID-19 but there was lots of political turmoil, religious persecution and economic uncertainty.

Remember just a couple days ago on December 25 we celebrated the King of the universe being born, not in a hospital or in a palace, but in a dirty, smelly stable surrounded by farm animals.

These types of uncertainties are a part of our lives as well

These types of uncertainties that we see in the life of holy family are things that we too also experience because our own families and our own individual lives can have lots of uncertainty. And uncertainty can be something that is quite painful and can cause a lot of mental anguish especially when we stop to think about all the various areas from which this uncertainty can come from be it our health, the strength of relationships within our families, our financial position or the prospect of what the future holds for us.

With this we can wonder, what’s this upcoming new year going to be like? What’s the next few years going to look like? Will we get back to normal? What’s my job going to look like? What’s school going to look like? Am I going to be happy? Fulfilled? How am I going to manage? And so on.

The only certainty we have is the past

In many ways, what we’re seeking is certainty with our lives and certainty with what the future holds. But that’s a real challenge because, try as hard as we possibly can, we can never guarantee ourselves a future which is free of ambiguity. In some ways the past tends to be more certain than the future.

Because when we look back at the past we can realize how we’ve been guided to where we are today, we can see the various obstacles that we’ve been able to get through and the blessings that we’ve received along the way. But also, we tend to remember the past because the past is certain, and we know we can’t change it. Think about how we like to tell old stories and reminisce about fond memories.

One of the reasons we do this is because, first off, we can look at those things in the past and think about what we like about them and how they made us feel. I’m not saying that all past memories are good memories but we’re using this as an illustration to show that generally speaking the past has a certainty to it whereas the future tends to carry more uncertainty. And when it comes to the future, we can let the lack of security and the lack of certainty steal our joy from us. But is there a way to have joy even when things are uncertain?

Joy in uncertainty?

Well I think scripture shows us that this is certainly possible. Think about the time when the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her that she would be the mother of Jesus. The angel simply came, announced this news, Mary submitted to the Lord’s will and then the Angel left. No other instruction on how to handle the fact that she was pregnant was provided to Mary. No instruction was provided to her on how she would break this news to Joseph, her fiancé was provided. No preparation was given about how she and Joseph would raise Jesus.

She wasn’t told that Jesus would be born in a stable in Bethlehem, that three wise men would come visit them, that Jesus would get lost in Jerusalem, that St. Joseph would die an early death and that would eventually Jesus would die on the cross. None of this was revealed. Mary and Joseph had to take things day by day and have FAITH that God was present in their lives.[1]

Faith is the Answer

And now the same is true for us. Just like the Holy Family who had to have faith that God was with them, so do we have to have faith that God is with us, within us and is in control of our lives especially during this time of pandemic, lockdown and isolation. And this is the key to having joy amidst uncertainty. Now faith is a virtue and virtues are gifts from God but that doesn’t mean we have no part to play. On our part it takes practice and growing in the habit of this virtue.

There are various ways that we can grow in faith but here are two ways we can grow in this. First, it is important that we vigilant over our thoughts. St, Paul, in Corinthians, teaches us that Christians have the ability to replace negative thoughts with godly thoughts.[2]  And secondly, we must PRAY because faith in the end is a relationship with God and faith means really believing that the God who made us loves us more than we can ever imagine that he has our life in control and that he will never lead us where His grace will not sustain us.

Today and always, let us ask for the intercession of the Holy Family so that like them we can rejoice in our joyful moments and continue to have that joy even amidst uncertainty.

[1] Talk given by Fr. Mike Schmitz from Ascension Presents

[2] 1 Cor. 2:16

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What Makes A Family Holy?

Raphael_The_Holy_Family_with_a_Palm_Tree

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.

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Holy-Family

Bring The Warmth Of Love To Your Family – Fr. Mark

Holy-Family

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 … 

BUT

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.

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