When I hear the Gospel of today, I just think of how exhausting this whole ordeal must have been for the Holy Family, not only physically but certainly emotionally as well!Family life can be very tiring, and our Lord wanted to start his redemptive task from the bosom of a family. A very stressed and tired family. Yet they didn’t throw in the towel, as seems to happen so often today.
The family is under serious attack in our world today. Marriage is seen as a burden, and many young people want to live together like they are married, but without actually being married.
Some people decide think that a marriage on the beach in front of a judge is the same as a marriage Blessed and approved by the church-a sacramental marriage. Pre nuptial agreements are popular, talk about low expectations. These are all deceptions by the devil who is working furiously to destroy the family, because the family is how God wants each person to encounter his faithful and abiding love. Rather than climbing to the heights of sanctity, so many seem intent on wallowing in the gutter. We have to work to change that! What a beautiful witness to hear of couples who are married over many years.
Marriage is a Sacrament, and to all who are in a sacramental marriage, God gives the grace and the strength to overcome any difficulty. Not only that, but to grow in love for each other through the trials. To share in the creative power of God.
As a Deacon I have convalidated two marriages of couples. These couples were married civilly but did not have the blessing of the church. I wish I could convey to you the joy on their faces after they expressed their vows to one another in the presence of the minister of the church. If you or anybody you know is living in a situation outside the church, pray and talk to them, encouraging them to return to the Church to have their situation addressed and hopefully blessed.
Moms and dads, you have an enormous responsibility which you feel in your hearts constantly. Yet the Blessed Trinity does not fail you because the Sacrament of matrimony is a great vehicle of grace for our world. Those who live hedonistic lifestyles outside of marriage do not enjoy this supernatural help: they are relying on themselves. The problem of course is that we don’t get to heaven by ourselves. There is only one place that we can be successful at arriving by ourselves and it’s not heaven. This is why we have to pray and work to bring our loved ones to the sacraments. When we look to the example of the Holy Family, we can see how the ordinary and simple tasks of ordinary life are ways that God calls us to be sanctified.
Children in families, that is, all of us, we have to love and pray for our parents and brothers and sisters.
Each family is called to be a bright witness to a world which seems to be utterly indifferent. The family is a light in the darkness, a furnace on a cold winter day, a warm embrace for somebody who feels forgotten. “The Christian family loudly proclaims both the present virtues of the Kingdom of God and the hope of a blessed life to come” FC 52.
The family is often described as a domestic church, and an essential element of family life is prayer. The church encourages reading scripture, morning and evening prayers, preparation for the sacraments, devotion and consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Rosary, praying grace before and after meals. Another great custom is having the home blessed by a priest or Deacon, especially around the feast of Epiphany.
What about those family members who do not practice the faith? It is a form of missionary activity! “In such a case the other members must give him or her a living witness of their own faith in order to encourage and support him or her along the path towards full acceptance of Christ the Savior.” FC 54
What if one of your sons says he feels called to be a priest? Or if one of your daughters says she feels called to be a nun?
I repeat the words of Saint Josemaria Escriva: “I would like to speak very loudly into the ear of so many men and women: giving up one’s children to the service of God is not a sacrifice: it is an honour and a joy.” Celibacy and marriage are not opposed: they are both needed!
I could go on and on, but I won’t. Like you, I come to Mass to be present at the re presentation of Calvary, not to hear the Deacon ramble on. If you like what I am saying, it is mostly from Pope Saint John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio, an easy to read and spiritually challenging document with some very practical suggestions. Lord, help us to battle what Pope Francis has deemed a throw away culture. Help us to bring the light of faith to a world that is turning away from you. Help us to be missionaries beginning at home so that we may one day be at home with you forever. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, help us.