The Feast of the Holy Family, and consequently the scriptures we will proclaim at Mass this weekend, can give us advice and help us reflect on our family’s dynamic. They can do the same for our parish family, always called to be a HOLIER family.
Sirach encourages us to honor our father (similar wording in the Commandments) and revere our mother. These two virtuous acts will help us to have a “…house raised in justice.” In our second reading, Paul advises the Colossians to “…put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience,” and to “… forgive as God forgives you” and over all these, “… put on love.”
You may want to take an inventory of how your family has done these things cited above, and in a bit bigger and more risky conversation, how can you do them better?
Another suggestion is to gather your family and make the focus of your gathering intentional gratitude for the ways that you have honored, revered, shown compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience to each other and to those beyond your family.
Our Gospel reminds us that the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph were a family on the move. They were refugees and immigrants. They fled to a foreign place that offered them an escape from life threatening danger, much the same way that people are coming to the United States now and have consistently during the entire history of our great nation.
I am continually grateful as Sue Geegan, our Director of Human Concerns, updates me on the progress and results of our generosity as a parish family during our past seven Lenten Social Justice Projects, in particular this past year’s outreach to many at our southern border and those ministering to them. As a parish family, we supported the Kino Border Initiative. The Catholic Extension Society has created a Holy Family Fund in our honor to assist many in transition in several southern states. Consistently, she reports that the Catholic Church, OUR Catholic Church, is usually the only religious institution providing assistance of many kinds to refugees and immigrants. I hope you take pride in our larger Catholic Church’s efforts to carry out Catholic Social Teaching and the many PRO-Life initiatives that flow from it. I hope that you see how significant this outreach is, and what your generosity has helped us to do to be a PRO-Life community. We are not perfect, but such outreach makes us a “…house raised on justice.”
In addition, we here at Holy Family can always improve as a welcoming community. I have said this before and I think it bears repeating: a thousand warm welcomes can be totally undone by one unwelcoming one. We can always be a better, more welcoming community. We can always be kinder and more respectful. As you may imagine, I receive all kinds of feedback about our community. I have heard and seen some incidents recently that prove we can be kinder to each other, more respectful, more compassionate, and more patient – all leading to being holier.
I want to express gratitude to so many in our Adult Faith Ministering Community who worked so hard to make our recent Advent by Candlelight such a success. 450 women gathered to kick off their Advent by benefitting from a powerful presentation by Laura Field followed by wine and hors d’oeuvres in the Narthex. Special thanks to Carrie Crall, Nancy Fleming, Judy Haben, Joanne Martinelli, Diane Mason, Eileen Neal, Dawn Watkiss, and Linda Yamamoto who worked with our leaders in Adult Faith, Mary Whiteside and Marsha Adamczyk. Kristen Berryhill and Mary Ann Kim led the singing and, of course, our Knights of Columbus men provided hospitality and served in their dashing attire.
Please look for a new item on our website entitled Rock ‘n’ Religion. As you may have noticed, my passion for connecting all kinds of music with our faith journey is manifesting itself in several initiatives. I strongly believe that the imagery, lyrics and music of many (not all) secular music can lead us closer to God by using familiar images and melodies. Much of what is conveyed in popular music is a message of love and the dynamics of human relationships that can stimulate our spiritual and religious imaginations and help us to hear and sing the song that God has placed in our hearts and our culture as well.