First Down (December 31, 2017)

Dear Friends,

Everyone who preaches the Word of God seems to develop a basic foundation of repeating a message, a way of spiritual life or philosophy that may inspire some people and probably annoy others. “Seems like you keep preaching the same thing after hearing you for quite a while,” can be a theme a preacher hears. And that might be right many times.

I know this to be true for myself, as well. In preparing homilies, I try to ask myself the question, “What does this message have to do with families, people trying to live family life, people trying to raise children, people trying to work on relationships or keep the peace in their family, among many other things that are important to family life.” I do come from a large family where I learned the dynamics of family life and what challenges there are in living together. So many times the examples I try to use in my homilies are how to encourage good practices for family living, parents, children, in-laws, grandparents or cousins. I try to give insights into what Jesus wants us to do in our family situations.

We know that Jesus grew up in an area called Nazareth, which most likely had about 200 to 400 people, practically living right on top of one another. So Jesus would have had to learn how to deal with not only His parents, but all the numerous extended family members. Jesus had to bear with difficult people, He knew the challenges of forgiving, caring, weeping with, working, providing and many other things family have to be concerned with. I guess that this is why for me, that I try to give many examples about family relationships. I think it is really core to Jesus and His teachings.

Family life finds itself in a very difficult situation in our society. There can be brokenness, lack of love/support, misunderstandings, separation and divorce among the many challenges that most of us are very aware of. Yet, Jesus offers us hope. The Feast of the Holy Family is an opportunity to plan a type of renewal in our family relationships. Who better than Jesus can understand what it is like living closely to all types of family members? Whose teachings find its foundation in loving or dealing with our parents, with children or with problems that are present in every family? This Sunday is an opportunity for every parishioner to consider an action that can bring about a beginning of renewal, a different insight and new priority towards relationships that really do need more of our attention.

Some people might get tired of hearing my “go to” messages in my homily; I get that. Yet my “go to” message is about how to live our faith within our family unit. We did not get to choose our family members, yet we can learn to be in love with them again when renewing our understanding of family life.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric