Saturday, December 28, 2013

Saving lives begins at home.

Like most families, mine also had its little quirks, safe secrets that only we family members would appreciate. One was in driving each summer to a family lake cabin, we would have a little game of who would "see the destination (the lake) first".  It became routine and we all would play even for years and years even into our teens. But it was our own family game. We could act like fools but yet find safety in our foolishness. Of similar family secrets;   They can be a place where members can bury embarrassing moments safely.  To celebrate moments that only we  would understand. They should also be a place to be ourselves comfortably.  After all, a family is where love is nurtured always.

The first Sunday after Christmas is celebrated as the Feast of the Holy Family.  Again as we did on the fourth Sunday of Advent, and even the addition of one line of the same gospel on Christmas evening, Joseph  has a dream.   This time it takes place after the visit of the Magi, and he is told to flee to Egypt to escape Herod.  Remember that King Herod is a Jewish leader.  Not necessarily the most observant Jew, he was a puppet ruler for the Roman occupiers and would twist Jewish law which many Jewish people would follow.  He is responsible for the massacre of all male  infants due to he being outwitted by the Magi.  This is known as the feast of the Holy Innocents, celebrated on the 28th of December.  Joseph was warned of this and he fled with Mary and the Christ child to Egypt.  Again, a man of the law and upright, he could have followed orders from Herod, do the census and register the family, but again, as he did by taking Mary into his home rather than shame her according to Jewish law, he proved his holiness by doing what God asked.   A true holy family takes its cues from heavenly guidance rather than national customs or values. A true holy family goes beyond the basic requirements of religion.  It is the first church, and again as Pope Francis has said about the institutional church that flows from the theology of the domestic church, it too is a place for nourishment as well as healing….a small field hospital for spiritual healing if you will.

As a head of his household he (Joseph) took charge as he trusted in God.  Each domestic church requires holy leadership if it too is willing to provide a safe place for its members. Too many families have relied on only a superficial understanding of the Church law rather than the spirit.  Too many families have confused national customs and law with the teachings of Christ. Too many children grow up in environments that nurture prejudice and hatred of others. Why would a child take a loaded gun to school to settle a score with a teacher or classmate?  Why would a teenager attack a person of a different race, or nationality?  Why would a pregnant teen be afraid to seek comfort and support at home?  Why would a gay or lesbian teen feel that they cannot be loved by their own parents?  Why to so many young people suffer from mental illnesses that their own parents refuse to acknowledge?  What has happened to our domestic churches?  What has happened to our families?  Are they holy?  If a child goes around saying that those who struggle or have been forgotten are somehow responsible and should not be helped, most likely he or she has heard this in the home or from another adult whom they trust for wisdom. And none of this flows from the gospel. These action are not holy nor is the family holy. It is just a family that follows the dictates of others and not of Christ.

The second reading from Colossians reminds us of obedience, leadership and mutual respect.  All are ingredients of a Holy Family.  When any family is led by a holy person, man or women, the entire family is imparted by examples of holiness. How one responds to injuries of its members, and how it also works to heal the injuries of others.  This is why a healthy parish family, or community of faith must be made up of members who live holy family lives in their domestic churches. So perhaps we can ask ourselves the following question… Is my family regardless of size a domestic churche-a place for nourishment and healing all based on Christ’s presence dwelling there?  And if not whom am I following and why?  Remember Joseph who did what was right…. Not just what was prescribed by the law. May our thoughts be like dreams that allow Christ to speak to and guide us. +Christ is Born, Glorify Him!


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