Bottom line: As we celebrate Holy Family Sunday we recognize family as essential to discovering life's purpose.
For Advent and Christmas Season I am giving homilies on Discovering Life's Purpose. In our Christmas readings we saw that God made this beautiful, but messy world. Then in Jesus God entered his own creation.
To take on human flesh meant that Jesus would have a mother and a guardian - St. Joseph, his foster-father. For Jesus family is important. He spent the first thirty years of his life, hidden away in Nazareth with his extended family.
This provides a clue to the meaning of our lives. Family is essential. The problem is that family not only brings happiness and security. It also brings suffering.
Simeon prophesied to Mary that a sword would pierce her heart. She saw that prophecy fulfilled when Pilate condemned her Son Jesus to humiliating torture and death.
Today we see Jesus preparing his mother for that trial. In today's Gospel it seems strange, even cruel that Jesus would disappear for three days while Joseph and Mary frantically searched for him. Mary says, "Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety."
Jesus responds, "Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" After that mysterious explanation, "He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart."
So Mary kept pondering this episode. She did not realize the full meaning until Jesus' passion, death and three days in the tomb.
In Mary we see that family brings not only great joy, but also terrible sorrow. I think of November 2009 when my nephew Benjamin died in a house fire. My sister-in-law went through days of desolation and understandable anger. But she is a woman of great faith. Even though the sorrow is always there, she also has a measure of peace. It comes from her relationship to Jesus and Mother Mary.
We need the Holy Family if we are going to form the families God desires. And make no mistake, God created us for family. For most this means matrimony. It begins when a man and woman fall into the temporary insanity we call love. Then they discover true love in living out that commitment, opening their hearts to the gift of children.
Even those not called to matrimony are called to form family. You call me Father Bloom for a reason. Likewise Sister Carmen and Sister Maria, also known as Mother Carmen and Mother Maria. Besides priesthood and religious life there are single people who consecrate themselves to serve others. Ultimately they are building family.
I have a brother who never married. His nephews and nieces adore him, as do their children - our great nephews and nieces. For decades he served as treasurer for the Stanwood Knights. And he takes care of me. Often when I spend a day off with him he has some oysters harvested from his oyster farm. They are delicious. My brother illustrates quiet, small ways of building family.
This is an unusual year with Christmas falling on Saturday. We will have something similar next weekend with the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, on Saturday, which of course is New Years Day. Epiphany Sunday - the Feast of the Magi - will immediately follow.
For today as we celebrate Holy Family Sunday we recognize family as essential to discovering life's purpose. Family brings both joy and sorrows. We ask the intercession of the Holy Family. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, pray for us.
Spanish Version (Word document)
From the archives (Holy Family Sunday homily):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish.
Other Priests' Homilies, Well Worth Listening:
Fr. Kurt Nagel
Fr. Frank Schuster
Fr. Brad Hagelin
Fr. Jim Northrop
Fr. Michael White
Fr Pat Freitag (and deacons of St. Monica)
Bishop Robert Barron
Bulletin (St. Mary of Valley Parish)
Parish Picture Album
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru