Homily for December 31

Homily for Holy Family Sunday
Scriptures for today's Mass

Audio for homily

Just yesterday Donna, a friend on FaceBook, posted this statement:
“Most people know this already,
but I mean this from the bottom of my heart.
Our door is always open. Our house is a safe zone.
Coffee can be on in minutes, a cold beer or cocktail.
The dining room table is a place of peace and non-judgment.
Anyone who needs to chat is welcome anytime.
 It's no good suffering in silence.
We have food or we can always order out - and eat and cry and laugh.
We will always do our best to be available...  
you are always welcome here!”

She went on to say that what she and her husband Pete are offering
is the value of old fashioned hospitality that we may have lost
in an age of technology, social media, texting and emojis.

Think about what Donna wrote:
“Our door is always open to you…
We will do out best to be available to you
- you are always welcome here!”

If you don’t have someone like this in your life
- don’t you wish you did?

And whether or not there’s someone in our lives
whose door is always open to us, might not each of us ask ourselves:
 “Does my door swing open this freely to others?
Do I do my best to be available to my neighbor?
Are others always welcome at my table, in my life?”

The truth is, some of may offer just such hospitality
to friends and neighbors - but deny it to some in our own families.

Or some of us may have just this kind of open relationship
with family members and close friends
but are quick to shut and lock the door to others
with whom we have disagreements
or against whom we harbor resentments and old grudges.

One way to frame the question is to ask, on Holy Family Sunday,
 “Just who is in my family?”

To whom does the door of my home freely open? 
To whom is it shut?
To whom does the door of my heart open wide -
and who is shut out of my heart?

Who’s invited to sit at the table in my home?
at my cafeteria table at school?
Who’s welcome and who’s not welcome
to the table of folks I lunch with at work?

How freely and how wide does the door open in my thoughts
when I’m considering the plight of the world’s refugees
or immigration policy?

What doors in my heart are closed, shut tight, locked
to family members or friends or neighbors or fellow parishioners
even as I make my way to the altar today
where the Lord has guaranteed a seat for me at his table
and is available to me 24/7/365?

From God’s point of view, there is only one family
and we are all members of that family, without exception.
God is the head of this universal household
and we, God’s sons and daughters,
are brothers and sisters to one another in Christ Jesus the Lord.

The family that goes by your last name or my last name
- these are just very small branches on God’s family tree.

We are blood relatives to some
but related to ALL in the blood of our brother, Jesus,
shed for us on the Cross and shared with us at this table.

As the song goes, we are
 “One bread, one body…
and we, though the many, throughout the earth,
we are one body in this one Lord.”

Most of us have an
 “open door, open table availability” for many in our lives
but most of us also have some work to do
in opening our doors more freely
and being more hospitable in inviting others to our table.

The good news is that this feast of the Holy Family
falls so close to the first of January
and New Year’s resolutions.

If we want to honor the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
let’s take time today to check the hinges on the doors of our hearts
and go over the guest list
for those we invite to share our hearts’ tables.

And let’s resolve, in the New Year,
to open those doors at least a little wider
and let’s resolve, in the New Year,
to add some seats to our table
and let’s, in the New Year, beginning today,
thank God that the Lord’s door is always open to each of us
that there’s always a seat held for each of us at his table, this altar.

We belong to a great, universal, holy family:
may the New Year be a time for us to live and love
not as strangers or worse yet, as enemies,
but as brothers and sisters who share one bread and one cup,
in the One who is Lord of us all.


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