Major Sunday Solemnities

May. 23, 2020

WE MISS JESUS BUT STILL HAVE HIM

1st- Acts 1:1-11; 2nd- Eph. 1:17-23; Gospel- Mt. 28:16-20

If someone asks you the question, where is Jesus, what would be your answer? This question might have been part of the struggle that his disciples had on seeing him ascend into heaven. Shortly before this, Jesus was speaking to them in a very strange language, “A little while and you will no longer see me, and again a little while later and you will see me” (Jn. 16:16). The disciples shuddered at the meaning of “a little while” and kept pondering what that might portend. And today, he ascends to heaven as they watch; the “little while” becomes a reality.

Jesus’ ascension seems to be the second disappointment for his disciples, the first being his crucifixion and death. Both create a sudden absence of Jesus for them. At his death, they missed him. They panicked. They went into hiding. They felt lost. Then he reappeared after three days and they began to readjust thinking he was going to stay with them permanently this time. Now, it’s 40 days, he’s leaving them again. They are not sure of his destination; all they see is their Master taken up into heaven. Is he gone forever? Will he come back again as he did after his resurrection? So, they gaze as “he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight.” It looks like a movie whose chief actor dies while the cast is still in progress. Since the movie isn’t over, the angels appear to address them, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).

For a few days now in the rectory, we have been talking about the theological concept of the “already but not yet.” The ascension of Christ and the question of where Jesus can be found presents us with the “already” and the “not yet” in today’s liturgy. The “already but not yet” teaches that believers are actively taking part in the kingdom of God but will only reach the full expression of this kingdom sometime in the future. 

The “already” is the inauguration that we see in the gospel encounter. Jesus tells his disciples that the powers in heaven and on earth have been handed over to him. He takes them into ministry as his apprentices learning the skills and manner of his works. He commissions them as they finish their apprenticeship, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Christ makes this kingdom present. He is with his apostles. He is still with us accomplishing the mission of his Father as “head over all things to the Church which is his body” (Eph. 1:23). God’s kingdom is already in existence. It is with us.  

However, this kingdom will not reach its full expression until sometime in the future. We do “not yet” see it in its glory. Jesus’ ascension brings us into that kingdom in a special way as he leads us into a deeper relationship with God, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” (Jn. 17:20). The disciples seemed confused about this kingdom and they ask, “Lord, are you going at this time to restore the kingdom to Israel?” The answer from Jesus is that it is not important for them to know the time. It’s not their responsibility because the Father alone knows. Theirs is to receive the Holy Spirit and be about the business of witnessing to the presence of the kingdom in all parts of the world. Jesus leaves and they watch. But is Jesus away really? The answer is provided by the angels, “This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.”

It seems appropriate to be celebrating ascension during a time of quarantine when it seems like Jesus has been taken away from us. At this moment, many of us feel frustrated with the Church. Many of us feel that the church is not doing the right thing keeping the doors closed because of the COVID-19 situation. Many of us feel like the Church has shut them out from receiving the Blessed Eucharist, from touching and feeling Jesus in their hands and hearts. As if we are standing in confusion looking upwards. We are gazing and wondering in isolation. We are feeling like the disciples; what might be next? We are truly missing Jesus. At this moment, there’s a feeling of loss leading to frustration.  

The “not yet but already” theology can be applied to our situation and might help us to answer the question, “Where is Jesus?” Where is Jesus now that he is taken away from his disciples? If he ascends into heaven, is he still with us? Where is he when he died? Where is he during those three days in the tomb? Where is Jesus when Mary Magdalene couldn’t find him? Where is Jesus when the doors of the Church are locked up? Where is Jesus when we are not able to attend Mass or pray with the community? Where is he when we feel frustrated? Where exactly is Jesus when we think we are not able to see him physically or feel his impact? Yes, Jesus has gone to inaugurate the “not yet” kingdom, but he is already with us. Jesus is in our hearts. He is in our homes. Look at the line in the gospel that says, “When they saw him, they worshipped, but they doubted” (Matt. 28:17). The apostles doubted his presence in Galilee. But their hesitation didn’t take away the presence of Jesus. It didn’t mean he wasn’t there.

My dear friends, so here we are again, spending another feast day -ascension- apart. What do we do with our situation? With our painful feelings? What do we do? Maybe we need to ask ourselves, do we really recognize that Jesus is with us now? Have we invited Christ into the struggle? Have we fully offered it up to him? Most of us have heard the expression offer it up. Offer up the frustration, the sadness, the anger, the loneliness, the grief, and fear. Offer up the isolation. Offer it up with Jesus on Calvary who knew all these pains intimately. Offer it up to him as he ascends. Tell him to lift you up with him. This suffering will not last forever and will never have the last say. God is preparing a great blessing through this current suffering. Everyone wants to be back at mass again. We seem tired of watching the mass at home on the computer or on our cellphones. We are getting bored with EWTN or Facebook live-streaming of masses. 

As for us priests, we have been asked several questions during this period about the decisions taken to lock the churches because of the COVID. Unfortunately, too, we might not have all the answers for those wondering and feeling left out in limbo. So you seem to be gazing like the apostles in confusion. Be assured that the priests are with you in this suffering too. We want to see our parishioners. We want to see your smiling faces, and sing with you and offer the mass together. We want to give you holy communion and shake your hands after mass. We cherish the hugs we shared with you. We want to ask you how you are doing. I want to see you and tell you to “stay out of trouble.” But I’m standing here again, listening to the echo of an empty church, preaching to a cell phone. I don’t like it. It isn’t fair to us too. But life isn’t fair. The Christian life isn’t fair else Christ wouldn’t have died. So, we are standing with you. But God promised us his grace and that is sufficient for us. God invites us to turn our pain and suffering over to the Lord and he will do great things with it. That’s the meaning of holiness; Christ raises us beyond our emotions and feelings. 

My dear friends, missing Jesus and having him are two different things. We might miss him because of what/how we feel. We might miss him because we feel physically drawn away from him. Missing him can only make us gaze in idleness and lament. Having him makes us do something. The reality is that we still have him. Jesus is still present as God. Jesus is present in our hearts. He is present in our homes. He is present in our relationships. Jesus is still profoundly present. He doesn’t want us to just stand idle and wonder where he is going to. He is going to prepare for us the “not yet” kingdom. His mandate for us is to teach others to observe everything that he has commanded us, to live out our “already” in relation to the Father. I want you to know that Jesus is with us always, “until the end of the ages.” Even after his ascension, we still have him.   

 

Feb. 8, 2020

Readings: 1st- Mal. 3:1-4; 2nd- Heb. 2:14-18; Gospel- Lk. 2:22-40

THE REAL ENCOUNTER WITH JESUS

The excitement in today’s readings lies in the invitation to encounter God in a unique manner. Starting with what the prophet Malachi says, “Lo, I am sending my messenger to prepare a way before me” (Mal. 3:1), we find ourselves in a wonderful relationship that makes us messengers by our Christian calling. It is simple but also complex at the same time. Simple, because being a messenger means having a message to deliver. Complex, because we are taken into the realm of the divine; we are messengers for the Lord. The wonderful news is that this invitation offers us the special privilege to personally encounter God. Imagine how compelling it is, that God is employing you into his service. Do you want to know how that feels? Let’s hear what the prophet says, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!" (Is. 52:7). How does this encounter come about?

Interestingly, God initiates the encounter by himself. He intends that his faithful ones should experience the gift of Christ his Son and be saved. The second reading of today confirms it this way, “Since the children share in the blood and flesh, Jesus likewise shared in them” (Heb. 2:14). The two natures of Jesus are presented for us here: his divine nature and his human nature. Whereas Jesus intercedes for us at the right hand of the Father (divine nature), his human nature makes this encounter real in a unique way. Jesus shares in our “blood and flesh,” embraces our human limitations and champions the course for us to overcome those limitations. He does not just give us the opportunity, rather He is our Opportunity to encounter God in a real way. Jesus makes the encounter with God radically real and amazing; He is the high priest, merciful and faithful who appears before God to expiate our sins.

In the gospel, we see Simeon and Anna experience this reality, the joy of beholding the infant Jesus. Their faithfulness and devoutness pay off. Their commitment to the gospel is evident as they embrace the light of God in Christ Jesus. This joy leads Simeon to exclaim, “Now, Master, you let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation.” Simeon’s canticle has both personal and universal implications. First, he thanks God for the privilege granted him as an individual. At the same time, Simeon prophesies that this light would reach to everyone as it reveals God’s love beyond human imagination. God’s plan is for all peoples: “a light for the revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.” Like Simeon, God invites us to a special encounter with him, an authentic living out of the Gospel which means experiencing Jesus in a way that radically changes us. What does this look like?

This weekend, and for the next two weekends, we will be conducting the Archdiocesan Annual Appeal for Catholic Ministries, through which our parish has the opportunity to be an integral part of the work of the local Church in allowing others to truly encounter the saving presence and work of the Lord. Each year, thousands of our brothers and sisters in the Archdiocese of Baltimore are blessed to experience Christ’s love and power through ministries that are made possible by our faithful support.

         This year, our parish goal is $90,000. 00. I know we can do this; but even more than the dollar amount, our goal as your priest in support of our pastor is to see more and more of our parish families participating in this appeal. Last year, we pledged $73,000 on the strength of 327 individual gifts. Even if you cannot make a huge gift, we can all make something; therefore, I stand here today to passionately urge you to consider making a pledge next weekend when we conduct our in-pew process. The good news is that our parish also benefits, receiving 25% of everything we raise up to the goal, and 50% of anything over and above that goal. Imagine what we could do with that blessing!

         Our generous support goes to allow twenty-four ministries of our local Church to touch the lives of countless people right here in Baltimore and Maryland. For example, our charity is experienced by the Baltimore Child Abuse Center, which helps young people and their families heal from the pain of abusive homes and relationships; we assist our poor neighbors through the work of the St. Vincent DePaul Society of Baltimore; we bring Christ’s love and presence to men and women in prison, we reach out to our sister parish of Saint Laurent in Haiti who continuously cry for our help, and we bring comfort and healing to those in hospitals through the work of our dedicated Chaplains; we put our money where our mouth is in our strong support of crisis pregnancy centers, which help frightened mother and families to provide a stable, loving home for their child.

With these and many other ministries, we extend Christ’s presence in our community – just like Simeon and Anna, who encountered Jesus in the Temple and then took that transforming experience and shared it with everyone who had been awaiting God’s response to their prayers. So many of our neighbors, friends, and brothers and sisters are also awaiting that encounter with Jesus, and we can help them. Our Church – our parish – must be a place where that encounter is real; and we must be the people who are touched first by Christ here, in our temple, so that we can be the answer to their prayers as we share Christ with those broken, and lost. In this encounter we demonstrate that we form a great mission as members of Christ’s mystical body here in Glen Burnie. We become transformed like Simeon because our eyes have seen God’s salvation. We contemplate God’s love and favors like Anna in thanksgiving for the privilege given to us to be his messenger here on earth.

May this encounter with Jesus be real in our lives and lead us to our ultimate redemption at the end of time.

   

 

Dec. 28, 2019

LOVE IS THE STRENGTH AND BEAUTY OF FAMILY LIFE

Readings: 1st- Sir. 3:2-6, 12-14; 2nd- Col. 3:12-21; Gospel- Matt. 2:13-15, 19-23

The beauty of the Holy Family is that everyone is present, available to make the sacrifice for the good of the family. Joseph is available as husband and father. He is present for Mary. He listens to the angel’s warning about Herod’s devilish intention. He acts like a responsible father and husband, “rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt.” Joseph stayed in Egypt until the death of Herod. Again, when Joseph was informed about the death of Herod, he took his family and began the journey back to Israel only to hear that Herod had been succeeded by his son Archelaus. Joseph diverted to Galilee in accordance with the voice of the Lord and settled in the town of Nazareth. This was to protect the infant Jesus from being massacred.

Mary was under the protection of the husband. Mary followed Joseph obediently. She made sacrifices for the unborn Jesus letting herself be moved from their homeland to Egypt, and back to Nazareth. Mary faced the inconveniences of motherhood brought about by her pregnancy. Mary was present for her son and they all lived like refugees in Egypt. What a sacrifice!

Jesus is the protagonist in the entire drama of the Holy Family’s escape and struggle for survival. He is the one being hunted after by the treacherous Herod. Jesus is the infant-king perceived to be a threat to the kingship of the time. For that reason, he was targeted to be killed. Jesus brought the presence of God in the family. Darkness tried to eliminate him but as John wrote, “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (1:5).

Ben Sirach extols the authority of parents in the first reading. Approaching from what seemed like a patriarchal society, he set the authority of the father to be unquestionable. For Sirach, to honor the father is to show reverence to God. The same extends to the mother. God confirms a mother’s authority over her sons. Therefore, the honor due to parents is not negotiable because God commands respect and obedience. Children must show respect to their parents especially when they are old and unable to care for themselves. Such is a divine obligation.

Paul gives us the keys to family life- “Put on as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another… And over all these, put on love, that is, the bond of perfection” (Col. 3:12-13). With compassion, family members stay connected with each other. Heartfelt compassion looks for ways to help. It seeks to support and to offer less judgment. Heartfelt compassion generates feelings for persons in need. Kindness moves compassion to action. Humility embraces services for one another. Humility and gentleness inspire commitment to the course of the other in family life. A humble brother or sister is available in a selfless manner. Patience is like the marble upon which other virtues rest while love is the umbrella that shelters them. With patience, one can accommodate one’s brother or sister. With patience, one can bear with the weakness or shortcomings of one’s family members. Patience prompts forgiveness. And Saint Paul says, “put on love” as “the bond of perfection.” Remember that he had already stated that the greatest of all virtues is love. A family that embraces love practice other virtues like the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

If we look at the life of Joseph, we see a father who was present for his family. We see a man whose sacrificial love provided paternal protection that the family needed. When Paul asks wives to be subordinate to their husbands, what does that imply? Be slaves to their husbands? No. I know that some feminists would be uncomfortable with this passage. But Paul is not asking wives to lose their feminine identity. He is not asking women to be mere tools in the hands of their men. This is explained in the verse that follows where the apostle writes, “Husbands, love your wives, and avoid any bitterness toward them.” Mary was obedient to Joseph. She moved to Egypt at his command. Joseph was the one who saw the dream about Herod’s threat against Jesus. Mary didn’t. But Mary didn’t hesitate to move because the man requested. Rather, she knew that it was for their good. They had an agreement and all of them moved. Joseph loved his family. Joseph cared for them. Joseph showed heartfelt compassion to Mary and her child. Joseph was kind-hearted. Joseph was humble, gentle and patient with Mary. He treated her with affection. Joseph’s love elicited Mary’s obedience.

What do we learn from the Holy Family? I had a conversation with a friend recently who described himself as a tough man. He told me that it is hard being a tough husband and that his wife had got used to his toughness. When I asked him how it feels being a tough husband, he said to me, “My neck hurts. My wife has been twisting it to the point that I feel the pain.” Joseph’s neck didn’t hurt because Joseph didn’t make it stiff. Mary didn’t twist Joseph’s neck because it was easy for her. Mary was interested in moving with Joseph, not just moving him. Together, they traveled to Egypt for the safety of the family. Together, they fought against the external forces of Herod. Joseph’s neck didn’t hurt because he didn't hurt Mary.

There was research some time ago that tried to study the causal relationship or correlation between being married and living long. It stated that married men lived longer than men who didn’t marry. Someone who was analyzing that research said that it’s not just that married men live longer but that marriage rather makes life seem longer especially if you marry a woman who keeps twisting your neck. So, a relationship where the woman struggles to twist the neck of the tough husband and the husband struggles to resist the twisting of the neck by his wife would seem like a really long life. We don’t need that.

Let us learn from the Holy Family to care for one another in our family. Let us learn to support, accommodate, empathize, and forgive. Let us learn to show kindness and compassion. Children, please care for your parents even or especially when they begin to age. Don’t dump them in any old people’s home and just call them once in a month. Last time when I shared my excitement about going home, an old lady said to me, “It is hard to get old. When you get old, you have no home. You simply become home to yourself.” We must be there for our parents, respect them and accommodate their shortcomings. Let us show love because love makes us present. Love is patient. Love is kind. Love never judges. Love isn’t boastful. Love is the beauty and strength of family life because it brings God to the center of our relationships.

May the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph bless our own families.

  

Jan. 6, 2019

THE NEED TO SEARCH FOR JESUS WITH OUR GIFTS

Readings: 1st- Is. 60: 1-6; 2nd- Eph. 3:2-3a, 5-6; Gospel- Matt. 2:1-12

Strange elements in the epiphany help to communicate the reality of God’s existence to us. We see the Magi from the gentile territory, the star that leads them, and their special gifts for the infant Jesus. The Magi’s statement on arriving Jerusalem is, “We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage” (Matt. 2:2-3). From that point onwards, a lot began to unfold. Herod is troubled, feels threatened, and goes into panic attack. He summons his cabinet and conducts series of interview to know about this new king. Herod’s intention is to do away with the infant-king. He pretends to be in favor of this child and tells the Magi, “Go and search for the child. When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage.” That is the height of sarcasm, humanity tries to mock divinity. However, the Magi receive a warning in their dream to return from a different route after visiting the infant Jesus. 

Few questions might be asked in the gospel of today regarding the epiphany of Christ: Why do these wise men abandon everything to search for Jesus? How are these wise men able to see and notice something unnoticed by so many others? Why would they give gifts to the infant Jesus? 

It is clear that the Magi take great risk. They set out on a long journey with the goal to discover the newborn king. They abandon their safety, home, and comforts to visit Jerusalem. The prophet Isaiah declares about Jerusalem in the first reading, “Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you.” The visit of the Magi fulfills the prophecy of the Lord. They do him homage.                                                                             

The Magi teach us to search for Jesus with everything we possess. From their experience, we learn that the search for Jesus is not always easy. Sometimes, those who search for Jesus encounter the likes of Herod who are uncomfortable with religion, those who see the worship of God as meaningless. Most Herods might occupy powerful positions in the society or in the family. Sometimes, the Herods are capable of deciding our fate. The Herods make the search for Jesus tough. In Saint Paul’s case, he encountered a certain Alexander the Coppersmith who opposed every bit of the truth of the gospel (cf. 2 Tim. 4:14). However, God shows his supremacy by guiding us in safe directions. God does not abandon his own. He guides us in the right path because he is true to his name. That is why he appeared to the Magi in the dream and led them safely through a different route unknown to Herod. 

The second question is how the Magi are able to see the star which is not visible to so many others. We can connect that to Christ’s prayer in the gospel which goes this way, “I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for hiding these things from the leaned and the clever and revealing them to mere children” (Matt. 11:25). What “things” would God not reveal to the learned and the clever? They are the mysteries of God’s kingdom. The learned and the clever refer to the proud and arrogant. Mary’s Magnificat says, “He has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble” (Lk. 1:51-52). Herod represents the proud and arrogant who cannot see the star. The Magi represent mere children, the simple of heart who are guided by the star of God’s wisdom. They see what the “mighty” and arrogant Herod cannot see. 

However, God’s signs are visible in the dark. The famous Christmas song says, “Silent Night, Holy Night, all is calm, all is bright.” The Magi’s star radiates in the silence of the night leading them to the divine encounter with the infant King. The night is when the noise of words and the frenzy of the daytime diminishes. It is a time when God’s voice becomes loud and clear. God’s light shines brightly in the silence of the night. Cardinal Sarah writes in his book, The Power of Silence Against the Dictatorship of Noise, “There is a language of the stars that we can neither know nor comprehend but that God understands perfectly” (p.88). The star represents God’s presence in both the cosmic darkness and the darkness of our souls. Only the light of God’s love can illumine those dark spots.

The Magi followed their star diligently. We must follow our own star. We must identify with to follow our star. I believe that each person’s star is different. This star can also disappear if we succumb to the Herod, if we submit to the darkness of societal pressures. As soon as the Magi stop over at Herod’s place, they seize seeing their star. Pride and arrogance can quench the star in us. The star in us is sustained by simplicity of heart and by constant recognition of the need to look unto God as its source.    

Finally, the Magi offer the infant king great gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Gold expresses Christ’s kingship, frankincense expresses his priesthood, while myrrh shows the sacrificial nature of Christ’s death. The Magi are gentiles, yet they recognize Christ’s kingship and make donations to him. That is what the Epiphany represents, the revelation of the universal kingship of Christ. The prophet Isaiah says, “Caravans of camels shall fill you, dromedaries from Midian and Ephah; all from Sheba shall come bearing gold and frankincense, and proclaiming the praises of the Lord” (Is. 60:6). Saint Paul reminds us that “the gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (Eph. 3:6). What gifts do we offer to Jesus? If gentiles could recognize him and offer him generous gifts, how much more believers like us? Do we merely grumble and refuse to give to the church? Do we pay him enough homage with the things God has given to us? Do we sufficiently support the course of the gospel with our donation? Do we appreciate everyone as members of Christ’s body despite their racial or ethnic background? 

                                                                                                           

Dec. 30, 2018

EXPERIENCING THE CHALLENGES OF FAMILY LIFE

READINGS: 1st- 1 Sam. 1:20-22, 24-28; 2nd- Col. 3:12-21; Gospel- Lk. 2:41-52

Every family experiences its challenges. 

Looking at the Holy Family, one would think it should be completely free from worries in the human sense. But that’s not correct. In fact, the challenges of the Holy Family start right after the birth of Jesus as Simeon foretells at his presentation. King Herod tries to eliminate him forcing Joseph to flee to Egypt. They’re forced to become strangers in Egypt. In today’s gospel, Luke narrates how the Holy Family travels to Jerusalem for the Passover feast. The boy Jesus gets lost. Being in his puberty, Jesus begins to explore not just his physical environment but his spiritual connection with his heavenly Father. He stays back in the temple without parental consent. The parents begin their journey back home only to discover that their son isn’t in the departing team. They are anxious, search for him everywhere, then return to Jerusalem. On finding him after three days, Mary expresses her feelings to Jesus, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” Jesus responds with what appears to be a goofy answer, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” This sets the stage for unveiling his mission as the Son of God.

The first reading presents different challenges regarding family life in the Old Testament. Elkanah has two wives, Hannah and Peninah with both wives entangled in constant conflict. Peninah has children while Hannah has none. Peninah would mock Hannah and would take advantage of her barrenness before the husband. Hannah worries mostly about having her own child. Hannah resorts to praying and seeking help from God. In today’s reading, Hannah’s prayers are answered. She begets a boy child. Since she promised to dedicate this child to God in return, she takes the boy Samuel to the temple in thanksgiving to God.  Hannah demonstrates to us the power of patience, prayer, fidelity, and gratitude in family life. 

The lesson from the readings is to recognize that family life has its ordeals: challenges from the marriage relationship itself; challenges arising from infertility and barrenness; challenges from parenting responsibilities and upbringing of children; challenges from gender roles and responsibilities as husband and wife. Some challenges also arise from personality and character styles of individuals in the family. We need to realize that the presence of challenges doesn’t make the family bad, rather it depends on how they are handled and addressed. 

Even the Holy Family has its challenges and conflicting moments. Mary doesn’t feel good about the boy Jesus not following them back to Nazareth. She feels anxious that he is missing. She expresses her feelings this way, “Son, why have you done this to us?” (Lk. 2:48) Mary makes Jesus to understand their feelings and the anxiety caused them by his disappearance. She verbalizes her feelings in a compassionate way.

Saint Paul gives us appropriate ingredients for healthy functioning in family life by the invitation to embrace “heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another as the Lord has forgiven you.” The Pauline challenge is this, “so must you also do” (Col. 3:13). We must also forgive. That’s the only way to achieve a happy family life. We must be compassionate and be willing to show kindness. We must be humble, gentle, and patient in our relationship with each other. We must be ready to bear with our family members in all that we do. We must be willing to forgive each other because such is a Christian obligation. That way, we sustain the bond of unity and of peace in Christ Jesus. Saint Paul includes everyone in the family code: spouses, parents, children. Everyone must shun bitterness in relating with another. No individual is perfect, hence, we all err. What matters is how we appreciate him/her as a gift to the family. 

Let us therefore emulate the Holy Family in making sacrifice for the other. Mary and Joseph sacrifice for Jesus; they go back to look for him. They show him compassion and love and not bitterness or resentment. Parents, should avoid bitterness in dealing with their children. Treat them with compassion. Understand the various neurological, hormonal, and developmental changes that take place in children as they grow. The more your children feel comfortable with you, the more they trust you, they open up to you and confide in you. Jesus opens up to Mary and Joseph, “Why are you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Lk. 2:49-50). 

Again, let’s be patient with one another. Let’s be kind and gentle. Let’s make humility a way of relationship in the coming year. The word of God teaches us to be thankful to God in all its richness. Let’s make our families places of thanksgiving to God. May the joys of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph fill our homes and inspire us to a fulfilled family life. Amen.