This weekend we reflect on the great gift of family and the unity and strength that comes from prayer and praise. It is fitting that the first Sunday after Christmas is always the Feast of the Holy Family. With the birth of Jesus the love of Joseph and Mary is complete as they build a unity of love and praise. As the love found in the Holy Trinity is united by the Spirit of God, so to the love of the Holy Family is united by the presence of Jesus, the Son of the the living God.
In our celebration of Christmas family is truly central. We focus on coming together as family. As I mentioned at Christmas this year is truly a different celebration as many families are unable to be together. The crisis that we face effects the family, but the unity and the power of our prayer and praise is a source of great strength. This year unlike any other the scriptures ring louder, clearer and stronger. In the first reading from the Book of Sirach we here of God’s plan for family and unity. The honor of our father and mother is an opportunity for great blessing. We hear explained more deeply the commandment to Honor your father and your mother.
Having lost my mother ten months ago and now my father in hospice care todays scripture touches my heart deeply. As I care for my father now that he is old, as I journey with him home to be with the Lord. I’m reminded of his book, “the long journey home” The journey is now coming to an end, each week, each day and moment brings him closer to the conclusion of his journey. So I seek to truly love him and honor him. I remember just a few days as my parent’s bedroom in the rectory now resembles a hospital room. The queen bed replaced with a hospital bed, and after assisting my father I said, “Dad I love you, and he said I love you too.”
The word of God is true today as we find in the love, unity and prayer of the family great strength to continue living in the blessing and grace of God even as our parents depart from us. In Paul’s letter the Colossian church is encourages and strengthens
“Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,
heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,
bearing with one another and forgiving one another”
In the gospel of the feast of the Holy Family we see their faith lived out in their fulfilling the precepts of the law. In presenting Jesus in the temple the spiritual life of the family, the unity in prayer and praise taps into the very DNA of God’s presence and power living and acting in their lives. We see the prophet Simeon and the prophetess Anna proclaim God’s glory in the witness and life of the Holy Family as they bring the Christ child to the temple. They model for us all that strong faith in the family is the binding force that enables us to endure, to heal and be transformed for God’s ultimate glory and honor. Let us celebrate family, unity and the power of prayer and praise lifting up all families bringing us to a place of great blessing. The hardships and grief do not leave us in darkness and sadness rather our hearts and minds are raised to the God who called us to live the power of the divine love within each of our families.