Saturday, December 26, 2015

Dec. 27, 2015: Holy Family, C

Dec. 27, 2015: Holy Family, C

Click to hear Audio Homily
Recently while watching the news, a story on a family caught my attention. It was a story about a 45-year old, single, Pittsburgh policeman who adopted two children. Six years prior to adopting the children, Detective Jack Mook was volunteering as a boxing coach for a program for underprivileged kids. The two children -- brothers Jesse and Josh-- participated in the program, but one day stopped attending. Concerned about the children, Detective Jack went looking for them and found them living with a foster family in squalid and dangerous conditions. The detective obtained an emergency child protective services order placing the children under his care, and eventually was able to adopt the two boys. As a product of Catholic education, Detective Jack recognized the value of faith in children’s lives and had the two boys baptized Catholic and enrolled in a Catholic school. Detective Jack said it was quite an adjustment to start a family, but said, “It’s the best thing I ever did in my life.” As I watched this story, I wondered out loud, ‘What makes a family holy?’  Think about it: How can a family that may be intact, extended, broken, blended, dysfunctional, or upended be a holy family?

A family can face many blessings and challenges. As the Holy Family of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus shows us in the Gospel today, no family is free of anxieties, confusion, worries, heartaches, and even losses. We know that this Holy Family experienced poverty, dangers to health, numerous relocations, and even death--death of Joseph before Jesus began his ministry and death of Jesus on Calvary. The family didn’t own much, but their home was a peaceful, harmonious home, full of joy and simplicity of life. It was a stable environment, where mutual love, sacrifice, and respect was a priority; absent was anger, aggression, and dominance of one over another in their home. Jesus had two parents who loved God and their Jewish faith was central to their lives. They taught their son to love God and follow the teachings of their faith.

As we look at the Holy Family, what do we feel we can improve in our own family? I’m not just referring to a family with children, but also to a couple without children, a single person, or a community of religious men or women.  Each family faces modern challenges such as balancing work and family life, making educational decisions for the children, tracking finances, and working through marital disagreements. Perhaps our family members are loving and kind, but at other times they may be disrespectful or resist participating in family life such as doing chores or attending family events. Each day in the life of a family presents its own set of dilemmas along with plenty of tensions. Sometimes we give our children too much; we give and give, thinking it would help them, but it creates unrealistic expectations, dependence, and stunts maturity and simplicity of life. Sometimes we give too little attention to our children because we are just plain too busy or self-absorbed. Sometimes, couples go through an upheaval because of demands from their respective careers. And sometimes parents are trying too hard to keep up with the “Jones”, and the strain of keeping up is taking a toll on their marriage.

Could we  use more peace, harmony, respect, simplicity, love, or joy? We look to the Holy Family of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus to fill up what is lacking in our own--to adopt us spiritually.
The Holy Family is holy because God in Jesus Christ is the center of it. Do we have the desire to share in the faith, hope, and love of the Holy Family? None of this is easy and will not come to fruition without each of us cooperating with God’s grace. Putting Jesus at the center requires us to make concrete steps--by making Sunday mass and daily prayer a priority in our lives. If our family finances need a checkup, then take a financial course; if there is marital issues, then seek christian counseling; if there is not enough family togetherness, then make the hard decision to give up some of the extra activities and concentrate on the family. Getting back to Detective Jack’s story, he had to change his eating habits for the sake of his new sons. His kids said that when they open up the refrigerator, all they see is bell peppers and vegetables. Their new dad began to cook fresh meals for them; no more eating alone or eating fast food, but eating together now as a family.

Let’s focus on making our family holy this coming new year by making the commitment to daily prayer. Putting Christ in the center our lives is not a difficult task. Each one of us is given a special gift from God to assist each other in this task. If each of us tries to truly live God’s love, then we will fulfill God’s plan for us to be a holy family. Turn to the Holy Family for strength and guidance, and may the grace from St. Joseph, Blessed Mother, and Our Lord strengthen and help us grow.
-Fr. Paul Yi