Feast 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.
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. 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.
 Talk given by Fr. Mike Schmitz from Ascension Presents
 1 Cor. 2:16
3rd Sunday Of Advent 2019
Fr. Mark Gatto
Preached: December 15, 2019
Someone once said that there is only one relevant spiritual question. What do you think is that one spiritual question? “Why aren’t you dancing for joy at this very moment?”
Are you dancing for joy in your heart at this moment? This Third Sunday of Advent is also known as Gaudete or Rejoice Sunday. Perhaps we might say, “how can I be joyful? I amgrieving right now, or I was just divorced, or I have an illness, or I am unemployed, or any of the many other challenges that we might be facing right now.
But, joy is not a feeling, it is a choice. It is something deep in the heart rooted in a trust in the goodness of God. It is possible to be sad and still have joy deep in our heart, to be grieving and still have joy deep in our heart.
Pope Francis has written two major documents to the church. One is called, The Joy of the Gospel and the other is called, The Joy of Love. The Joy of the Gospel offers a vision for the church in our world today. The Joy of Love offers a vision for marriage and family life in our world today. Both are rooted in the joy that comes when we place our lives into the hands of the Lord with trust.
How do we live as a people of joy, how do we maintain joy deep in our heart during the struggles of life? The Prophet Isaiah, St. James and Jesus each give us some important keys to being people of joy in our readings today.
In the first reading, the Prophet Isaiah speaks of rejoicing, joy, gladness. Isaiah says to speak to those who are struggling, “Be strong, do not fear!” How often do we hear those words throughout the Bible, “Do not fear!” When we allow fear to rule us, it becomes an obstacle to joy.
When we are ruled by fear, it leads us away from love and away from God. Fear can lead us to act against what we know to be good and true. When you see racism, prejudice, bigotry, you can know that the root of these attitudes towards others, is fear. This leads us away from joy. So, first step to keeping joy in our heart is to hear those words of Isaiah, “Be strong, do not fear!”
In the second reading, St. James says “Be patient.” Our time is not God’s time. We are pilgrims, this is not our eternal home. We are on a journey to our true home. We need to be patient when faced with dark moments, difficult times, when we are feeling empty and dry.
I remember being in a desert while visiting the Holy Land. When you looked around in that desert there was just sand, rocks, empty fields that seemed to have no life. But, a week later following a rare rain storm, in that same desert, beautifully coloured flowers bloomed and came to life. That desert that seemed so dead before was now so full of life.
In our lives at times, we have moments when we feel empty, life seems so hard, our relationship with God seems to dry up completely. Then we need to listen to St. James, “Be patient.” Deep down is a new life able to bloom. Be patient and wait for the rain that God will bring, then that joy deep in our heart can come forth again.
In the Gospel, Jesus says to some of the disciples of John the Baptist who came to ask him if he was the one who is to come, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.” To have joy deep within us, we need to allow Jesus to come and heal us.
Some of us are blind. We see others, we see life in a way that is hard and resentful. We need to see in a new way, to see with the merciful eyes of God.
Some of us are lame. We have been paralyzed by some situation, a failure, a disappointment. We need to find the strength and hope to get up again and live life with new enthusiasm.
Some of us are lepers. We have cut ourselves off from others and isolated ourselves. We need to be cleansed and reach out to others, be connected again to family and community.
Some of us are deaf. We need to be healed in order to listen to others, to hear the anguish and hurt from people in our family, our workplace, our community.
Some of us are dead. We are not living life, but simply going through the motions. We need to be raised up again to embrace life more fully.
Some of us are poor. Life seems only to be bad news for us. We need to have good news brought to us.
The one relevant spiritual question for all of us is, “Why are you not dancing for joy at this very moment.” We the People of God are called to be a People of Joy.
The path to joy is not to be ruled by fear, but to be patient when in the dark moments of life and to be open to the good news that Jesus brings.
Do not fear, be patient, receive good news. Choose that joy that is lying deep within your heart, allow it to bloom and come to life.