The size of the solemnity of Christmas should not dwarf the significance of the Feast of the Holy Family of Nazareth.
And the reason is not a politically incorrect exaggeration but a simple reality check: our future as a Church and as a Nation hangs in the balance.
The number of religious institutions that cling to this somber realization is dwindling: conservative Christian groups and the Catholic Church. That’s about it!
For decades we had suspected that there were covert efforts to undermine the traditional family unit and replace it with new “progressive,” “enlightened” units.
But, now, the proponents of a “New Order” are so embolden by their liberal achievements that they do not go through the trouble of trying to hide their intentions any more.
The basic tenets forced upon the gullible and those with the itch for novelty are: the irrelevance of God; the harm done on people by any major religion; and the absence of absolutes and fixed values.
In this New Order, the ideal, utopian, pain-free societal setting is achievable, basically, by adhering sheepishly, no questions asked, to the suggestions of liberal pundits who guarantee no additional personal cost.
Well, at the risk of sounding irreparably old-fashioned, the Catholic Church insists, instead, on offering these three readings (Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14; Colossians 3:12-21; Luke 2:41-52)that speak of joy and fulfilment only through self-control, the experience of the cross and a high, personal cost, which seems to be always unavoidable.
As soon as Diane Licata heard of the shooting on the morning of December 14, 2012, she made a U turn and headed for Sandy Hook Elementary School where she had her six-year old son and her seven-year old daughter.
Upon arriving, she asked her daughter’s teacher where her little girl was.
When the teacher told her that they had been separated by the mayhem, her heart went numb and stayed numb until her daughter filed out with some of her friends and was safe in her arms.
But, even as she hugged and kissed her daughter over and over again, intense anguish held her heart in a tight grip because her son was still missing.
As the last children filed out and the door closed behind them, a terrible, unthinkable thought seized her and did not leave her until a simple text message from a friend told her that her son had run past the shooter, out of the classroom, and was safe at the police station.
Only a parent can fully appreciate the anxiety, the numbing anguish that Mrs. Licata felt during those hours of separation from her children.
The same anguish is experienced, alas, way too often, by parents whenever there is an active shooter where their children are.
We can certainly begin to understand, then, how St. Joseph and the Blessed Mother must have felt when they realized that Jesus was missing, not for a couple of hours but for three
“Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” Luke 2:48
What the Church tries to convey to us with this incident in the life of the Family of Nazareth is that, far from being irrelevant, God is not in any way aloof from the worst experiences that can happen in family life.
God’s own family was not spared the experience of anxiety, anguish, poverty, losses, pain, even life as expatriates in Egypt.
God’s own family was not even spared more serious trials such as having to live with the lingering thought that, shockingly, in the best possible setting, with the most sincere and abiding commitment to dedication, sharing, cooperation, and inspiring love certain aspects of life can remain stubbornly wrapped in thick darkness.
But they did not understand what he said to them. Luke 2:50
This simple realization makes the Holy Family of Nazareth that much more relevant and inspiring to us all.
Today, we are expected to take home with us some crucial points for our consideration.
First of all that, as we can clearly read from nature itself, God has instituted the traditional family as the proper setting for each human being to be born, to grow and to be formed in.
The father’s contribution to the wellbeing and productive life of a family is different from what is a mother’s contribution.
Each one has to contribute according to his/her nature.
That is why it is so hard for single mothers or single fathers to play both roles by themselves.
Secondly, God and not the government, has to be placed by parents at the very center of the family in order for each human being to be properly welcomed into this world, adequately nurtured and correctly formed.
Thirdly, everyone according to his/her competence and role has to exercise those virtues that St. Paul recommends.
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. Colossians 3:12-14
Any other type of family is not and must not be placed at the same level as the traditional, natural type.
I firmly believe that the Lord expects each one of us to be willing to make sizable and constant sacrifices for the wellbeing of our family, with the persistent, painful thought that some areas of our family life will remain shrouded in mystery.
The Lord requires also an unwavering commitment to fight tooth and nail against anyone and any trend that undermine the sanctity of the traditional family unit; and, relying constantly on the Holy Spirit, to do absolutely all we can to make our family, as much as possible, like the Holy Family of N
Homily for Midnight Mass, December 25th, 2021
Undeniably there is magic in the air tonight.
Even those who would have reasons to be pensive and worn out find a new spiritual energy inside that prompts them to rise above their worries and troubles.
This magic atmosphere must be God-sent because it is different from any other type of which we can avail ourselves on our own.
After all, we are here to thank the Lord God for sending his only Son Jesus as a baby to be among us, to do for us what we are incapable of doing on our own: to save ourselves from the dark side of our human nature.
Tonight this is, par excellence, the place of our encounter with God made flesh.
It is a place where peace can be found and joy can be felt for a prolonged time.
We have left outside nations like Afghanistan and Haiti and all other nations where corruption, greed and lust for power are exacerbating the poverty of the poorest and also a thousand other obscure places where the dark side of human nature has shown its frightening cruelty.
It is good for us to be in here for an hour or so.
Yes, we need a quiet corner in which to take in and contemplate this good news of great joy that will be for all people, without running the risk of it being shattered by an unforeseeable evil.
The irrepressible joy that invades us comes from the Child that God himself has given us.
His name is Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever,
Prince of Peace.
Frankly, we fail to grasp the significance of these mysterious names given him, but we sense that they fit him adequately and that is good for our souls.
The first reading reveals to us that this Child, awaited with unspeakable and patient longing by countless generations and now surrounded by throngs of angels, comes from the zeal of the Lord of hosts.
We never thought that it took the zeal of God himself to give us his only Son in the form of a newborn baby.
Zeal means passion; zeal reveals the fire of love burning within our Lord’s heart; zeal conjures up thoughts of ardor and eagerness.
This is the fire of love, the zeal that drove our God to come among us in the most disarming fashion and share in our pain and hardships.
The gospel passage which is among the most familiar ones lists a few of these hardships as it bares all the pain therein.
Imagine the discomfort of Mary, in her ninth month, traveling from Nazareth to Bethlehem.
Consider the anguish of Joseph looking, powerlessly, at her uneasiness.
Add the straits of having to settle for a stable in which to give birth to the Son of God and to have to place him in the feeding trough of oxen and donkeys rather than in a real crib.
By contemplating this poverty and want embraced by our God, we realize that the joy that we feel inside tonight flows from the unspoken realization that our God in human flesh, by choice, feels right at home, in any of our poverties and wants.
The proof is in the multitude of heavenly host with the angel praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
Tonight, we realize that the world can offer us several ways of relaxing, unwinding, having fun and finding a degree of joy, but we have learned for certain that the brand of joy that the Lord offers us is the only brand that can withstand a life of hardships, poverty and want.
We notice this brand of joy in the shepherds who lived by necessity a life of hardships, poverty and want.
We notice it in people who are lowly and humble and who are looked down upon by those who are rich of wealth and/or of themselves.
Thus, tonight we choose to embrace our simple way of living marked by hard work, industriousness and sincere caring for each other.
Thus, tonight we accept with courage to be tested now and then by hardships, poverty and want because we now know that our God is truly consumed by his zeal for us.
He is passionate about us and he alone can fill our hearts with the brand of joy that we cannot find anywhere else.
And let this be the brand of joy that can make our Christmas merry indeed.