Homily on the Feast of Holy Family – 2020
“The Lord remembers his covenant forever”
Dearly Beloved, as we gather to celebrate this Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, we are invited to reflect on their love for each other; we are to give thanks to God for our individual families; we are to be agents of compassion and healing to families who are suffering; we are invited to look at the past with gratitude, to look into the future with hope and to see the many blessings that God is offering us, even in the midst of personal difficulties and a pandemic. The Holy Family is a model to all families. Each member in this family had their own difficulties and challenges, misunderstandings and worries, yet nothing could make them turn on each other. They kept together to the very end.
Traditionally, Christmas has been one of the occasions around which families gather. However, as we all know, this year has been very different because of the covid-19 virus. Even for those who managed to meet, the experience is not been the same. Many families are been isolated from one another. Under such extraordinary circumstances, we are still motivated to support and care for each other. What this pandemic has thought us among other things is that every opportunity to be with family should be cherished. If you had postponed a family gathering last year, it may not be available this year. Take every opportunity that comes to do your best for each other.
Please, allow me to share this story I read from the blog of Fr. Boniface Nkem about two brothers and a carpenter. One day, a carpenter approached a house early one morning and asked the owner if he could be of help for any repair in the house. The owner of the house thought for a while and says to the carpenter “look at that neighboring house, it belongs to my younger brother and we do not get along. Please erect something that would block us from seeing each other!” The carpenter assures the house owner that he would do a good job and he started the work while the house owner leaves for a business meeting.
By evening, the house owner returned to discover that the carpenter had erected a beautiful and simple bridge connecting his house to that of his brother. He was still confused of what was going on, staring at the bridge from his side when his brother emerged from the other side, and they met in the middle of the bridge with a warm hug. The younger brother says to his elder brother, “I am sorry for all that I did. You are so kind to build this bridge which indicates that you still want to have something to do with me, I am sorry”. They hugged each other and cried. Beyond building a bridge, at time it takes just an act of concern to unite a broken family. Many who have been isolated form their families would want to get back and be forgiven. It always about how to do that. It takes a concern person to reach out. Be an instrument in reaching out to estranged relative and get the family together again.
Pope Francis has said that in every family there is always a cross. But also, in families, after the Cross there is Resurrection.” The reason that makes life interesting is the power to choose. We are able to choose many things in life including a husband or a wife. However, not so with the family you come from. The then Anglican Archbishop in South Africa Desmond Tutu equally said, “You do not choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.” Each family therefore has their own problems and challenges.
Both the first and second reading make reference to the faith of Abraham; our father in faith. As a married man wo loved God, he had no child of his own. A situation which troubled him and the wife Sarah. God made a promise to him in Genesis chapter 12 when he was called to make his descendants numerous. Our reading today is from Genesis chapter 15. Abraham was quite fed-up with his situation when God approached him again with a promise. In great distress, Abraham spoke to God “O Lord GOD, what good will your gifts be, if I keep on being childless. God was however, patient with him. Finally, in Chapter 21, we are told
“The LORD took note of Sarah as he had said he would;
he did for her as he had promised.
Sarah became pregnant and bore Abraham a son in his old age,
at the set time that God had stated.
Abraham gave the name Isaac to this son of his
whom Sarah bore him.
The second reading from the letter to the Hebrews equally makes reference to Abraham’s faith. In that Abraham did not deny God his only son. And the writer makes reference to the thinking process of Abraham which is an example for us to emulate. What was a Abraham thinking when he believed God to sacrifice Isaac?
“He reasoned that God was able to raise even from the dead,
and he received Isaac back as a symbol.”
In effect, our reasoning and conviction of who God is has a major influence on our obedience to God. What you believe about God, influences the level of your commitment to him. It is therefore important to spend some time thinking about who God is to you.
Friends, our gathering together every week make us into another family. So too we establish families in the community we live. Let us therefore seek always to live well with other members in the church and also our neighbors.
. As we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family, let us remember to build bridges in our homes;
- Spend time with your family.
- Pray together.
- Settle quarrels and forgive as often as a problem arises.
- Be patient with each other
- Invest in your family.
- Do not forget your parents.
- Those with children should teach them to love God.
However challenging these times may be for your family, learn to keep each other close.