Sunday, December 28, 2014

The family, whether we like it or not, is the foundation.”

Today, there are those who say that marriage is out of fashion. Is it out of fashion? In a culture of relativism and the ephemeral, many preach the importance of ‘enjoying’ the moment. They say that it is not worth making a life-long commitment, making a definitive decision, ‘for ever’, because we do not know what tomorrow will bring. I ask you, instead, to be revolutionaries, I ask you to swim against the tide; yes, I am asking you to rebel against this culture that sees everything as temporary and that ultimately believes you are incapable of responsibility, that believes you are incapable of true love. I have confidence in you and I pray for you. Have the courage ‘to swim against the tide’. And also have the courage to be happy.” – Pope Francis (Sunday, July 28, 2013 -  Address to the World Youth Day Volunteers)

Gospel text (LK 2:22-40): When the day came for the purification according to the law of Moses, they brought the baby up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, as it is written in the law of the Lord: Every firstborn male shall be consecrated to God. And they offered a sacrifice as ordered in the law of the Lord: a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons. 

There lived in Jerusalem at this time a very upright and devout man named Simeon; the Holy Spirit was in him. He looked forward to the time when the Lord would comfort Israel, and he had been assured by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before seeing the Messiah of the Lord. So he was led into the Temple by the Holy Spirit at the time the parents brought the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law. Simeon took the child in his arms and blessed God, saying, «Now, O Lord, you can dismiss your servant in peace, for you have fulfilled your word and my eyes have seen your salvation, which you display for all the people to see. Here is the light you will reveal to the nations and the glory of your people Israel». His father and mother wondered at what was said about the child. Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother, «See him; he will be for the rise or fall of the multitudes of Israel. He shall stand as a sign of contradiction, while a sword will pierce your own soul. Then the secret thoughts of many may be brought to light».

There was also a prophetess named Anna, daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. After leaving her father's home, she had been seven years with her husband, and since then she had been continually about the Temple, serving God as a widow night and day in fasting and prayer. She was now eighty-four. Coming up at that time, she gave praise to God and spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem. When the parents had fulfilled all that was required by the law of the Lord, they returned to their town, Nazareth in Galilee. There the child grew in stature and strength and was filled with wisdom: the grace of God was upon him.

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family.  What a wonderful time to pause and give thanks for the gift of family. 

The Gospel tells us that the child grew in stature and strength and that he was filled with wisdom. Jesus found the warmth of a family built up in their reciprocal love relationship. It would be so beautiful and profitable for us to try as hard as possible to build up our own family: with the spirit of service and prayer; with mutual loving; with a greater capacity to understand and forgive. We would have a taste of Heaven —as in the Nazareth home— down here!

Today, one of the most urgent tasks we have is to build up our family. As the Second Vatican Council reminded us, parents ought to have an irreplaceable role: «It is the duty of parents to create a family ambiance animated by love and piety towards God and towards men, that favors the total personal and social education of their children».

In the family we learn what is most important, i.e. to be persons.

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