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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Doubtful…Uncertain? Here’s What To Do – Fr. Mark


2nd Sunday Of Advent – Year C

Fr. Mark Gatto

Preached: December 9, 2018

What will the world look like 20 years from now?  What will the church look like 20 years from now?

I really have no idea!  And I would be very suspicious if someone tried to tell you that they knew what it would be like.

Many grandparents and parents have a similar question about their grandchildren or children.  What will come of my child who is struggling with depression or who has been recently divorced, or is struggling with an addiction.  Here we often have to admit, we really have no idea.

One of my favourite prayers is a prayer by Thomas Merton, I can really relate to it.  It goes like this:

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.

I do not see the road ahead of me.  I cannot know for certain where it will end. nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.  But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.  And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.

And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it.  Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.  I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

This uncertainty about the future, about what God is doing, this doubt that we struggle with at times, is found in any honest life of faith.

During Advent we see John the Baptist and the great prophets of the Old Testament.  They also did not know what God was going to do.  They did not know how or when or what God was doing to do.  They believed that God was going to do something, they were waiting and expecting the Messiah, the Anointed One.  But, they did not know what or how this would take place.

So, the action of God coming in Jesus was not recognized by almost anyone, it was not expected, it was utterly surprising.

Today we also do not know how or when God will work in our world, in our church, in our own lives.  The result can be fear, uncertainty, doubts.  But, uncertainty and doubts are not a problem, they are not a sign of lack of faith.  Uncertainty and doubts is simply the result of me not being God.  You are not God so definitely will be faced with uncertainty and doubts.

What to do when faced with uncertainty, with doubts?  We can look at what John the Baptist was doing.  He called to the people to prepare the way of the Lord.  They were invited to a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  In other words, they were to make an honest self examination.  In this way they were to form a heart that was ready and open to recognize what God will be doing among us.  For only a humble heart will be able to recognize the action of God in surprising and unexpected ways.

This past week our priests had an Advent Day of Prayer.  The speaker quoted St. Catherine of Siena.  I thought this was a sign to me as a Pastor of St. Catherine of Siena parish.  One thing she was known for was the way she spoke to the Pope of the time who was in exile in Avignon.  She wanted to encourage him to be courageous and return to Rome.  In one letter to the Pope she said, “… I want you… to try to have a big heart… Develop a courageous heart grounded in true humility.”

As we listen to the call of John the Baptist to prepare the way of the Lord, it is connected to this call of St. Catherine of Siena to have a big heart.  During this Advent we need to undergo an honest self examination, leading many of us to go to the Sacrament of Confession.  In this humble self examination and forgiveness of sins, we will be able to grow a big heart, a courageous heart, an open heart that will be able to recognize what God is going among us, in our world, in our church, in our lives.

So, do not worry about being uncertain, about having doubts.  This Advent work through humble self-examination and forgiveness of sins to develop a big heart ready to see and join what God is doing among us.

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