Saturday, December 29, 2012

Feast of the Holy Family

           In honor of Adrian Peterson, the great Minnesota Viking’s running back who may break the NFL season rushing record against our beloved Packer’s, I am going to give a 28-minute homily.  Buckle up.
            Actually, I first want to mention my eye opening experience of visiting Ghana, Africa.  It was very interesting encountering a world so different than ours.  They have so little compared to us—vehicles, food, good roads and technology.  Yet we can learn a lot from this culture.
            One of the characteristics of the Ghanaian culture that was so inspiring to me was their firm grasp on family life.  Often, whole families—including grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins (for which they actually have no word!) and the immediate family—live together.  Divorce is minimal.  Abortion is illegal.  And, when I told some of them that in our country we are now voting on who can marry, they were truly scandalized.  We have before us a culture that is rooted in family values and from that we can be taught.
            Our culture is in crisis when it comes to family.  Our divorce rate is skyrocketing, there are 3,500 abortions every day, and the very meaning of what marriage means is in question. 
In the face of such turmoil, we would do well to remember the exhortations of our popes and bishops since the Second Vatican Council—the family is of primary importance in our society and Church.
There is no better day to reflect on families than on the Feast of the Holy Family.  We see in Jesus, Mary and Joseph the example par excellence of family life.  Imagine this family with two sinless people.  (Poor Joseph, the only sinner in the bunch!  If anything happened in the house, it had to be Joseph’s fault.)  The Holy Family fulfills the Scripture’s teachings on family life.
We have before us a true man in Joseph.  He protected Mary and Jesus, leading them out of danger.  He was chaste as he was not physically intimate with his wife.
There is Mary, who is perfectly submissive to Joseph, God and Jesus.  This word—submissive—is used by St. Paul to describe a wife’s role in the family.  Unfortunately this word has negative connotations in our society.  We think that a wife submitting to her husband means being his slave, or by having to make him food whenever he demands.  On the contrary, the real meaning of this word can be seen in remembering its makeup.  The prefix -sub means “under”.  A wife, then, is to be “under the mission” of her husband.  And what is the husband’s mission?  To love his wife as Christ loved the Church and died for her.  Wives—you are asked to be submissive to your husbands and allow him to love you so much that he would die for you.  This is what Mary did.  She submitted to God’s will and allowed her son to die for her and all mankind.
Finally we see the child Jesus who was perfectly obedient to His earthly parents.  As fully God, there were probably many times he could have corrected His parents or said, “See, I told you so!”  Yet Jesus lived out to the full the fourth commandment—honor your father and mother.
Finally, the earthly Holy Family is our best reflection of the family—God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  The Holy Family was caught up in the Trinity, and this is what our family is called to do.
I pray that your family may be in union with the family.  And by following the example of the Holy Family, our earthly example, I pray that your families may grow in holiness.

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