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Kicking off Family Message Seriesbb601e

My Dear Parish Family,

Today, the Sunday after Christmas, the Church presents the Feast of the Holy Family. As noted last week, this is the season of feasts! The Solemnity of  Mary, the Holy Mother of God follows on January 1st. A holy day of obligation, Masses will be offered at 5pm on New Year’s Eve and 11am New Years Day. Come and begin the New Year honoring Mary with your parish family.

As we behold the Holy Family, Mary and Joseph with Jesus, we recognize immediately that Jesus was not born into an ideal situation. Although he arrives in the fullness of time, as the Scriptures teach us, our heavenly Father’s perfect timing does not appear to coincide with what a modern family would call a “planned pregnancy”: little savings, no home, no healthcare, no life insurance, no college savings plan.

Today in the Gospel we learn that when the Magi departed, Joseph fled to Egypt with his family. And after a number of years, they finally settled in Galilee. So the Holy Family were immigrants, transients and day laborers. Joseph needed to find work that his family might eat. A tenuous situation for any family, let alone the family chosen and prepared to raise the Son of Man. Jesus even gets lost in the temple at twelve, but that’s another story.

These realities lived and endured by the Holy Family inspire confidence and trust. We might say, if it is good enough for the Holy Family, it is good enough for us. The Father did not spare his son growing pains. He did not shelter him. He did not offer an easy road, a leg up. Jesus learned carpentry at Joseph’s side, with calluses, splinters, a stiff back and all the associated pleasantries. No power tools, remember!

Over the next several weeks, as the church follows the Holy Family, we will be concentrating our themes on the family. It is fitting to focus on the family. First let’s focus on presence. During these days when the kids are home, be conscientious about the use of technology. Limit screens. Take the time to be together and savor the sacred traditions. Above all, making memories means being present to those who are present in our midst, and sharing some holiday joy. We bring our whole selves to the moment… which may require leaving the dang cell phone at home! 

My mom calls it “making memories.” We make memories whenever we intentionally spend some time or activity with a loved one. Here are some Wilson Memory Makers: split pea soup from the ham hock, coloring books and hot cocoa. A memory could be made with the simplest thing: a book, a family puzzle, singing a song using spoons for mics. It doesn’t matter so long as you own it.  Making memories implies quality over quantity, and above all intentionality.

Paul presents the  Colossians  with a series of virtues apt for fruitful interactions with family and friends: patience, humility, gentleness and the desire to bear with one another.  And he reminds them, “And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful.”

As we accompany the Holy Family on their journey, we recognize that all is not perfect and well arranged, and still we are called to be thankful for the great gift of family that we have been given.

God bless you my spiritual family!

Fr. Wilson