Holiness Is for Every Family 2020-12-27 Fr. Roberto
Homily for Holy Family Sunday – Year B
Fr. Roberto Corral, OP
Saint Dominic Parish, Los Angeles, CA
December 27, 2020
Title: Making Your Family Holy
Theme: God wants us to do our best to make our families holy.
Readings: Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14; Colossians 3:12-21; Luke 2:22–40
Several years ago, I read a sad story in the newspaper. It was an interview with a man who had been in prison for many years. He talked about his terrible childhood of poverty and abuse and his life of crime. At one point, he was asked by the reporter what had been the worst day of his life, considering all the difficulties he had endured. He answered that the worst day of his life was not when he was a kid or when he was sent to prison. It was not even when his wife left him. His worst day was the day he was walking in the prison yard and saw a young man, who had recently arrived at the prison, staring at him. He thought the younger guy wanted to pick a fight with him or something, so he walked up to the young man and aggressively asked him, “What’s wrong with you punk? Why are you looking at me? The young man answered, “I been staring at you because you’re my father.” Those words hit the older man like a bolt of lightning. He was devastated because not only had he not recognized his own son, but, worst of all, he realized at that moment that besides messing up his own life, he had also caused his son to mess up his. He realized too late how important family life is and how he had failed to give his son and his family the care and the example they had needed from him.
This story serves to remind us that, for better or for worse, our family is where just about all of us learn about life and relationships; it is where we form our identities and our values and learn about good and bad, right and wrong; it is where we learn to make choices in our lives. We can learn good things in our families and we can learn bad things in our families. So the question I want to ask all of us today is what do you bring to, what do you give to your family? How are you making your family better, stronger and more loving? In other words, how are you making your family holier? Obviously, parents have the primary role in creating a healthy family life, but all members of the family have a responsibility to help make their family a holy family.
Today, we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family, and the Lord invites us to look at the family life of Jesus, Mary and Joseph and see what we can learn from them. What made the Holy Family holy? Today I want to talk about three things the Holy Family can teach us about holiness and how we can bring holiness to our own families.
The first thing the Holy Family teaches us about holiness is that it is a process with ups and downs.
Holiness takes time and there are no short cuts. We are tempted to think that the Holy Family was entirely different from us. We tend to idealize them and imagine them living a life of total happiness and perfection far removed from the reality and messiness of our own family life. But the truth is that Jesus, Mary and Joseph were human like you and I. Therefore, they experienced disappointment, confusion, frustration, uncertainty, doubt, hurt and even anger just like our families because none of these emotions is sinful in and of itself. They suffered and struggled in some of the same ways that we do in our families and in our lives. Their holiness was not automatic just because they were the Holy Family; they had to work hard at being holy just like we do. So, the Holy Family teaches us that we can make our families holy by working through the struggles and sufferings of family life with love, patience and forgiveness as they had to. Sometimes we will succeed and sometimes we will fail because holiness is a process with ups and downs.
Second, the Holy Family teaches us that holiness is more about the ordinary than the spectacular. Yes, there were certainly spectacular moments in the Holy Family’s lives, for example, when they were visited by angels and the magi, and, as in today’s Gospel, where total strangers gave amazing prophecies about their lives; however, for the most part, their family life was ordinary and a lot like ours. Remember how surprised the people from their home town of Nazareth were when Jesus preached to them in the synagogue as he began his public ministry as a young man? They were surprised precisely because Jesus, Mary and Joseph had seemed to be an ordinary family living among them.
In the same way, our holiness mostly happens in ordinary and not spectacular ways. God is present in every aspect of a family’s ordinary, day-to-day life. When you take time to pray, read the Bible and go to Mass together, that is holiness. But it can also be holiness when you are at work or school; when you are preparing dinner, doing the dishes, the laundry or working in the yard; when you are doing homework, playing games, changing diapers or going shopping. Each of these activities can be a moment of holiness for you. God is in the day-to-day much more than he is in the spectacular. Ordinariness can be very holy. So the Holy Family teaches us that we can make our families holy by doing even ordinary things with love and by being aware that God is with us in the ordinary moments and events of our daily lives.
Finally, the Holy Family teaches us that holiness ultimately comes from surrendering to God’s will.
For example, Mary sacrificed her dreams for a peaceful, quiet life in Nazareth. Joseph took Mary as his wife even though she was already pregnant, and he knew he was not the child’s father. And he never had sexual relations with Mary throughout their marriage; Jesus gave his life for us on the cross. All of them made great sacrifices again and again throughout their lives in order to follow God’s will. This is perhaps the greatest lesson that the Holy Family teaches us: that holiness ultimately means surrendering our lives to God. So the Holy Family teaches us that we can make our families holy by making God a priority in our lives, by seeking his will and by being willing to sacrifice ourselves for the good of the others in our family.
So, in summary, today we learn from the Holy Family that holiness
is a process with ups and downs;
it most often occurs in the ordinary moments of our lives;
and it ultimately comes from surrendering our lives to God.
Whatever our family is like – with its blessings and with its struggles – it is where God has placed you to grow in holiness ourselves and to help your family members grow in holiness. It is surely not a perfect family, and it may not be the family you would have chosen had you been given the choice, but it is your family, and it is there where you are challenged to work out your holiness each day. Our families can be holy families, and God wants us to do our part, to do our best to make our family better, stronger and more loving, in other words, to make our family holy.
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