• Wartakanlah Injil kepada segala makhluk.
    Mrk 16:15

  • 你们往普天下去, 向一切受造物宣传福音
    谷 16:15

  • Everything is possible by the power of the Holy Spirit’s Grace.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • Segala sesuatu menjadi mungkin dalam kekuatan karunia Roh Kudus.
    St. Arnold Janssen

  • 我当传教士不是为主牺牲,而是上主给我的最大恩赐

  • Với sức mạnh Ân Huệ của Chúa Thánh Thần, Mọi việc đều có thể được.
    St Arnoldus Janssen

  • Preach the Gospel to the whole creation./Anh em hãy đi khắp tứ phương thiên hạ, loan báo Tin Mừng cho mọi loài thọ tạo
    Mk 16:15

  • There are many different gifts, but it is always the same Spirit.
    1 Cor 12:4

  • And the Word became flesh and lived among us.
    Jn 1:14

  • Let the word of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you.
    Col 3:16

  • To proclaim the Good News is the first and greatest act of love of neighbour.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • 传扬天国福音是第一且最大的爱近人行动

  • Có nhiều đặc sủng khác nhau, nhưng chỉ có một Thần Khí/
    1 Cor. 14:4

  • 圣言成了血肉,寄居在我们中间
    若 1:14

  • Ada rupa-rupa karunia, tetapi Roh satu
    1 Kor 12:4

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Friday, 28 December 2018 11:09

Feast of the Holy Family - 2018

Written by Fr Larry Nemer SVD


Holy Family 2018


Fr Larry Nemer SVD 150One wonders if the neighbours of Joseph and Mary thought of the two of them plus Jesus, and any other siblings he might have had, as a “holy family”.  They certainly would have been seen as a devout Jewish family.  Joseph worked as a carpenter and supported his family.  Mary, it seems, was well liked in the village since she had close women friends all through her life.  They attended the synagogue regularly.  They made the three-day trip to Jerusalem on certain solemn occasions to offer sacrifice in the temple.  But one wonders if the other villagers saw them as “extraordinary” in any way – a truly “holy family”.

After all, when Jesus came to Nazareth to preach in the synagogue the people were surprised by his ability to speak and explain the Scriptures.  And they had heard how he was a charismatic healer “of the blind, the deaf, and the lame”.  They wondered where he had acquired all his wisdom and power.  He was well known in the village as “the carpenter’s son” and all knew his parents and brothers and sisters.  The villagers would probably not have identified them as “a holy family”.

Yet the Church has for centuries celebrated the Feast of the Holy Family.  The bishops and theologians certainly saw Jesus, Mary and Joseph as being a holy family.  They don’t say much about other possible siblings, although we know that James, a brother of Jesus, was the leader of the Christian community in Jerusalem until the year 62.

The Fathers of the Church point out that they were indeed a “holy family” because they did what God asked them to do.  Mary said “yes” even when she fully didn’t understand what was happening to her.  Joseph said “yes” even though God only spoke to him in a dream.  Jesus said “yes” and stayed on in Jerusalem to learn more about his tradition even though he must have known that his parents would be concerned.

The Church teaches us that being holy does not mean being successful in a worldly way, or leading a “charmed life” where everything turns out well, or always being understood and appreciated.  But it does mean being faithful to the task that God has given us to do.

I learned this still as a young priest.  My sister asked me to talk with a very good friend of hers, Maryanne.  She was concerned about her since three of her first four children were born slightly brain damaged, and now she was pregnant with her fifth.  I talked with Maryanne and told her how I admired her courage.  I was amazed when she said that her children were gifts of God and she would love them and care for them no matter what their disability might be.

She then proceeded to involve me in a movement in the Chicago archdiocese called SPRED – Special Religious Education.  It is a program designed for people with physical or mental disabilities – or, as they like to say, people who are differently gifted.  Each child has a friend/catechist.  The leader is a trained catechist.  The diocese supports the adaptations they make in the liturgy in order to make it more understandable to their “friends”.  The catechists meet every other week with their “friends” and on the other week they meet as a Christian community to deepen their spirituality and talk about the children.

When I joined the group Maryanne’s son, Bill, was 13.  She was disappointed because he still had not made his First Holy Communion.  Both she and the lead catechist agreed that he certainly knew enough to make his First Communion, but Bill would have none of it.  She tried many things to encourage him to receive Communion.  One time she even had him help her prepare the bread that we would be using for a Home Mass.  But he would not take Communion.

Then one evening at our regular session we had a Mass standing around the table.  Bill manoeuvred himself to a spot next to me.  As the dish went around and everyone took Communion it arrived in Bill’s hand and there was still one piece on the dish.  He took it and ate it and made his First Holy Communion.  He knew what he had done.  Immediately after the Mass he went to hug his Mom.  When I saw the look on his face and on her face I knew then that they really were a “holy family”.


Last modified on Friday, 28 December 2018 11:16