By Fr. Dan Merz
The feast of the Holy Family is an important feast! Because we all belong to a family. Even if your parents are deceased and you have no other living members, you belong to the Church family here at Newman. And maybe you haven’t thought of it, but you belong to the Holy Family, too. You’re a disciple, and every disciple is beloved by Christ. And on His Cross, Christ entrusted the beloved disciple to His Mother. That includes you and me. From the Cross, Christ joined us to His family!
Don’t NOT stop and think about what that means. Every child has the right to say to their father, “You owe me. You owe me protection, and to provide food, shelter, clothing, basic necessities, not to mention love and care. You owe me to teach me boundaries and survival skills, and to give your example of trusting and loving my mother. But every father can also say to his children, “Ah, and you owe me: respect and obedience, and love and care, too.” When we realize that we belong to the Holy Family, we realize that the same dialogue is also true of us and St. Joseph…and of us and God the Father! How awesome is that? And a bit frightening! It should put some “holy fear” into each of us!
We can do the same exercise toward our mothers, right? “Mom, you owe me, too. You owe me your nurturing, so that I grow in wisdom and stature and in favor before God (Lk. 2:52). You owe me to learn how to be relational (because we all learn what it means to be human first of all from our mothers). You owe me to learn how to reconcile, to ask for forgiveness and how to forgive. You owe me your sacrificial love and your example of faith and prayer; and your example of how you love and respect my father.” And our mothers can easily respond, “And you, my child, owe me respect and love, devotion and obedience, and a willing and docile heart.” Again, exhilarating and scary, but beautiful and inspiring, because we can have such an exchange not only with our earthly mothers, but with the Blessed Mother, herself!
As we celebrate Christmas as a Church family, I want to say how blessed and honored (as well as awed and humbled) I am to be your Pastor, how blessed and honored I feel to belong here. And my prayer is that you grow in your own sense of belonging here, too. We’re all brothers and sisters in this messy and sacred family of the Church! Merry Christmas!!