All over my desk are some of the most fantastic pictures! The entire
space looks like an advertisement for Kodak! For just like you, I have received tons of pictures from family and friends of their children, themselves, their favorite sights while on vacation and often enough, their
pets. I love them. And one of the issues I face every year is: what should I do with all these pictures?
I mean, after a week or two I have to move them aside to simply see the
top of the desk and get on with the new year. But how does one throw out a picture of a bunch of smiling, giggling, and really cute kids? Quickly enough, I think I will simply store them away and figure it out later. Problem is, I did the same last year and the year before! So I will just find a new spot to store them, I guess.
In reality, the story is not the pictures. The story is what the pictures represent. They represent the enormous love and hope of hundreds of families. They are the story of growth, struggle, sacrifice, hard work, and lots and lots of love. We are talking about family and everything begins and ends, in God’s marvelous plan, with family.
We know that a picture may be worth a thousand words and yet the picture does not tell the whole story. In my blessed role in Charlestown and in
other places, it has been my unique privilege to become a part of many
families. I have witnessed the birth of families in marriage; the growing of
families in births, adoptions, and baptisms; the maturing of families in first
communions and confirmations; and the radical changes in families in the
deaths of loved ones.
I have journeyed with families in trouble, with loved ones gravely ill, in
prison, and far away. One of the most painful for all involved is when the
family is broken apart by separation and divorce, even when that is the best
resolution to a failed marriage. We use the word freely and often – family.
It is a really sacred word and never to be taken lightly.
A human family can only come about through love. And authentic love
is always a gift from God—a sharing of God’s very self with a man and a
woman called to unite in marriage and form a family. Family demands our
reverence and deep respect. To guard, protect, and cherish the family is a
responsibility of all of us as well as to pray for the family and support all
families, especially those in trouble.
Anything we do, no matter how small that strengthens our families is
important and of value. For families are fragile. They are made up of persons like you and me who need to forgive, help out, and be patient with
one another. Often, it is a messy and challenging journey. And as we know,
in our time, families are found in various forms, far from the traditional.
However without exception, every family is precious in God’s eyes and
merits our respect and protection.
This weekend we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family and we marvel
at the fact that the Son of God, Jesus, was born into a human family with
Mary and Joseph. They formed a simple family with grandparents and ancestors. And soon after the Child’s birth, they became an immigrant family, fleeing for the safety of the Child to a foreign land. Because of the gift of this Child and all He is, we have the freedom to embrace our human family in love, compassion, and understanding. It is one of our greatest gifts of all and I see it so clearly as I gaze on these beautiful pictures all over my desk.
Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
December 26/27, 2020
When Jesus is presented in the Temple, our Blessed Mother formally
offers him to God’s service without reservation.
It is a service that Simeon prophetically foretells: a service to God that will turn the old laws and cultural norms upside down.
As we await the dawn of a new year, are we destined to hold on to old habits and customs tightly or like Jesus, are we willing to serve the Lord and proclaim the Gospel in new and creative ways?