I was particularly moved by the drama and the characters of the Christmas story this year. We heard a proclamation according to Luke (2:1-14) and the characters include Mary, Joseph, a generous stable owner, angels and shepherds just to name some. I emphasized the role of the shepherds in my homily, because they listened to the angels (messengers of the divine) and then FOUND the Holy Family. I believe that this is an example for all of us to follow as Christians and during a time when our world is troubled in many ways.
My encouragement to all of you, rooted in this Lukan Christmas story, is to listen to the Divine urging you to find holiness. Even in our troubled world, there is a lot of holiness. More than we think. The shepherds were near Bethlehem, so this great event of hope and new life was closer than they thought. As the first angel appeared to them, they were taken aback, but then when a whole lot of angels appeared to them, they were terrified. Sometimes God’s message to us can cause us fear, but when we know that it is a message from the divine, delivered by people around us who are really good, we may be instilled with a little more courage provided by the Holy Spirit.
So the shepherds go to FIND this holiness that the angels encouraged them to see. They FOUND a Holy Family in the simplicity of a stable. Inspired by this story, let us find holiness in our family, in our families, despite the dysfunction or unhealthy dynamics. Let us find holiness in our work family, even when it may seem far from a family or a team. Let us find holiness in our school and on our sports teams, even when we seem like we are simply co-existing. Let us find holiness in the family of our local community, our state and our country amidst the division and lack of respect that politics can bring out. It is there, we just have to find it.
My final invitation is to find holiness here at Holy Family. Believe me, there is a lot of it. I invite and challenge you to be both angels who announce the holiness of our faith community, and shepherds who find it. Consider the holiness present in offerings from each of our major ministering communities. Announce them to others! Find holiness in them! Just a few ways to find holiness at Holy Family Catholic Community include:
ADULT FAITH – Our annual Beloved Retreat in conjunction with Old St. Patrick’s (all filled with a waiting list this January, but offered at least once a year), Bible Journey, Catholic Scripture Study, our Parish Mission (this year February 11,12,13 led by Fr. Jim Clarke). Details about more activities on pages 8-10 of this bulletin.
FAMILY AND TEEN FAITH – Our vibrant, teen led 4 pm Mass each Sunday. New activities for college students home on break being offered this week. Passion Play preparation that has already begun. Details on pages 11-14 of this bulletin.
HUMAN CONCERNS – Our annual Lenten Social Justice Project will be an innovative partnership with Cardinal Cupich, Fr. Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina’s, Catholic Charities and Mercy Home for Boys and Girls to address the complex issues related to violence in our area.
HOLY FAMILY CATHOLIC ACADEMY – We are proud to offer one of the most innovative curriculums in the United States, weaving together Inquiry Based learning and International Baccalaureate with our Catholic Social Teaching and values. The Kids First tax credit scholarship initiative recently passed by the state of Illinois will make our Academy affordable for many who currently attend and, as yet, have been unable to afford our Academy’s tuition.
PARISH OPERATIONS – Often taken for granted is the beauty and size of our campus. If you come into church and leave through the narthex, please take time to walk and tour our ENTIRE campus. You will be amazed with the things you don’t know about us, because you may never walk all the way through our beautiful facility.
WORSHIP MUSIC AND TECHNOOGY- Please open yourself up to the beauty of our vibrant worship. Allow yourself to get into the spirit of our contemporary music, which you may not recognize at first, but it will become familiar with repetition. One such piece is the beautiful Gloria that Gene Garcia has written for our Christmas Season.
Our unique KID CHURCH meets on the second and fourth Sundays of the month at 10:15am in the chapel. This is for children ages one to four years old. A Small Christian Community formed by the parents of these children meets on the third Sunday of the month at 10:15am.
Be a Shepherd. Find holiness in our world. The angels have told us it is here. Let’s find it!
A happy, healthy and HOLY new year to you all.