Homily for Holy Family Sunday

The Holy Family: copyright Daniel Bonnell

Homily for Holy Family Sunday 
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily

There are, of course, all kinds of families:
families of origin,  nuclear families,  extended families,
small families, big families,  the church family,  troubled families,
happy families, broken families, struggling families;
families with two parents, with one parent, with gay parents,
with separated or divorced parents, with adoptive parents,
with parents of different faiths;  growing families,
parish families, close families,  distant families,
her” family, "his" family...

And you can be sure of this:
if there's any family you think is perfect: You. Are. Wrong.
That family is not perfect.  No family is perfect.
If you were that family then you would inherit their problems,
their difficulties, their need for healing, their need to grow,
and their need for God's help.

Around the holidays some of us just can’t get enough of family;
while others have "had enough of family, already!"

And just about all of us miss and long for family

who live too far away for visiting
or who have gone home to God… 

Christmas can bring out the best in families,
and the not-so-best as well.
Christmas draws families together but it also surfaces
the troubles and problems, grudges and disputes
that divide and separate family members.

This morning St. Paul offers us a family code or “house rules”
and invites us to “put on” these rules like garment:
think of putting on a warm winter coat, a coat of
heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience,
forgiveness of those who offend us,
gratitude and a willingness to let Christ rule our hearts. 

Suppose we were to consider all these virtues as “gifts”
under the Christmas tree…
Which of those gifts would your family need most this Christmas?
Which of those gifts does each of us need to develop and share
as members of a family?

Listen to that list once again
and think about these gifts in your  family:
Heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience,
forgiveness of those who offend us, gratitude
and a willingness to let Christ rule our hearts. 

I’ll tell you one person who wears just this kind of “coat:”
his name is Francis and he lives in Rome 
and we love him for wearing what he wears:
that wonderful invisible coat of virtues.

What if  you and I showed up at home, at work, at school
wearing a coat of these virtues?
Would our family members and colleagues and friends 
even recognize us?
How different would our lives be were these gifts 
the hallmarks of how we live and interact with others
in our families?

And what New Year’s resolutions might these gifts suggest for us? 

Heartfelt compassion… 
How might I reach out to others, in my family, more generously
in this New Year?
And who at home is in need of my kindness, 
my gentleness, my patience? in my family...
Who in my family is waiting for my forgiveness? 
Who needs my gratitude at home?
Who needs to hear me say a heartfelt “thank you”
for loving care that I take for granted?
And how do I need to more humbly and willingly invite Jesus 
to rule my heart in family affairs?
to rule my words and deeds? my choices and decisions?
and how I handle family relationships?

If such questions became the stuff of our new year’s resolutions,
imagine the change there might be in each of us
and in the families we live in.

How many of our families’ difficulties 
might begin to be resolved and healed
by compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience,
forgiveness of those who offend us, gratitude,
and a greater willingness to let Christ rule our hearts? 

I know I'm repeating myself
but I’m not sure we can hear these words too many times…

The Eucharist we're about to celebrate and receive is nourishment
to help us grow those virtues
in our hearts and in our households,
in any of the families we belong to.

We worship under the sign of Christ’s rule over our hearts:
Christ who was compassionate, kind, humble, gentle, patient
and forgiving of us and our offenses against his love.

Pray with me that the sacrifice of praise we offer here 
at the altar at the table of our household of faith,
will feed us for living more like the Holy Family
of Jesus, Mary and Joseph: 
in peace with God and with one another.


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1 comment:

  1. This homily is just simply excellent!


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