holy families, not perfect families

Placing the Feast of the Holy Family on the Sunday after Christmas is brilliant liturgical timing. Unfortunately, it`s a tough sell when Boxing Day falls on a Sunday. Though not as empty as on Christmas morning, our pews were looking a wee bit airy and spacious.

We have a new pastor this year. Fr. M comes from India, and completed his seminary studies in Rome. He brings a refreshing global perspective to his homilies and stories. His Christmas homily focused on the message of peace at Christmas – a message that our world so sorely needs. The Holy Family homily was a keeper. Here is a summary:

As Catholics, we are often ashamed to admit that there is any dysfunction in our family. Yet, each family has its challenges, its shadow side. This does not mean that we can`t be a holy family. Being holy means being intentional and unconditional in loving each member of our family. We will never be perfect. But, we CAN be holy. Of course, as with most deep truths, the message is simple but difficult. We cannot control all the kaka that happens in our families – conflicts, divorces, addictions, illnesses, stresses, bad life choices, etc. But, we CAN choose to continue loving.

The Church, too, must be seen as a family. We, too, have our dysfunctions ….and do we ever have our dysfunctions! We can no longer hide them or pretend they don`t exist. We are far from perfect. The challenge is to continue seeking to be holy amid the mess.

Nowhere in the homily were there any admonitions or guilt trips about Sunday mass attendance or parish participation. Holy families weren`t associated with families that fill parish pews.  Worshiping and nurturing your faith as a family is important. Attending mass continues to be an obligation for us as Catholics. But, by itself, it does not make a family holy.

This Christmas, we have had some great family time. The highlight was our son and new daughter-in-law announcing that we are going to be grand-parents, and the sibs are going to be aunts and uncles. We all agreed it was the best Christmas gift. It is the Christmas truth at its simplest. The promise of new life brings joy and hope to all!