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Sunday:       The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
Date:         December 30, 2016.
Year:         A
The readings: [Sir. 3:2-6, 12-4; Col. 3:12-21; Mt. 2:13-5, 19-23]
The message:  There he made his home.
Prepared by:  Catholic Doors Ministry.
Total words:  2805


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** The readings follow the sermon.

Welcome my brothers and sisters in Christ to today's celebration of the Holy Mass that commemorates the Feast of the Holy Family. With the closing of the year, this is an appropriate time to review the status of one's family life. And with the opening of a New year, this review provides the family with the opportunity to strive where weaknesses exist.

During the Reading from the Gospel of Matthew, we heard, "There he (Joseph) made his home." [Mt. 2:13] Accordingly, today's homily shall be centered on what it means to "make one's home." What is necessary to ensure the physical and spiritual continuity, security and stability of the family life?

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we read, "May Nazareth teach us what family life is, its communion of love, its austere and simple beauty, and its sacred and inviolable character..." (C.C.C. # 533; Paul VI at Nazareth, 5 January 1964) Elsewhere, it states, "The Christian home is the place where children receive the first proclamation of the faith. For this reason the family home is rightly called 'the domestic church,' a community of grace and prayer, a school of human virtues and of Christian charity." (C.C.C. # 1666)

Let us begin by reviewing the teachings of the Catholic Church regarding "the nature of the family." (C.C.C. # 2201-3) "The conjugal community is established upon the consent of the spouses. Marriage and the family are ordered to the good of the spouses and to the procreation and education of children. The love of the spouses and the begetting of children create among members of the same family personal relationships and primordial responsibilities." (C.C.C. # 2201)

"A man and a woman united in marriage, together with their children, form a family. This institution is prior to any recognition by public authority, which has an obligation to recognize it. It should be considered the normal reference point by which the different forms of family relationship are to be evaluated." (C.C.C. # 2202)

"In creating man and woman, God instituted the human family and endowed it with its fundamental constitution. Its members are persons equal in dignity. For the common good of its members and of society, the family necessarily has manifold responsibilities, rights, and duties." (C.C.C. # 2202)

What is a Christian family? "'The Christian family constitutes a specific revelation and realization of ecclesial communion, and for this reason it can and should be called a domestic church.' [FC 21; LG 11] It is a community of faith, hope, and charity; it assumes singular importance in the Church, as is evident in the New Testament. [Eph. 5:21-6:4; Col 3:18-21; 1 Pet. 3:1-7] (C.C.C. # 2204)

"The Christian family is a communion of persons, a sign and image of the communion of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit. In the procreation and education of children it reflects the Father's work of creation. It is called to partake of the prayer and sacrifice of Christ. Daily prayer and the reading of the Word of God strengthen it in charity. The Christian family has an evangelizing and missionary task." (C.C.C. # 2205)

"The relationships within the family bring an affinity of feelings, affections and interests, arising above all from the members' respect for one another. The family is a privileged community called to achieve a 'sharing of thought and common deliberation by the spouses as well as their eager cooperation as parents in the children's upbringing.' [GS 52.1] (C.C.C. # 2206)

What is the role of the family in society? "The family is the original cell of social life. It is the natural society in which husband and wife are called to give themselves in love and in the gift of life. Authority, stability, and a life of relationships within the family constitute the foundations for freedom, security, and fraternity within society. The family is the community in which, from childhood, one can learn moral values, begin to honour God, and make good use of freedom. Family life is an initiation into life in society." (C.C.C. # 2207)

"The family should live in such a way that its members learn to care and take responsibility for the young, the old, the sick, the handicapped, and the poor. There are many families who are at times incapable of providing this help. It devolves then on other persons, other families, and, in a subsidiary way, society to provide for their needs: 'Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world.'" [Jas. 1:27] (C.C.C. # 2208)

"The family must be helped and defended by appropriate social measures. Where families cannot fulfill their responsibilities, other social bodies have the duty of helping them and of supporting the institution of the family. Following the principle of subsidiarity, larger communities should take care not to usurp the family's prerogatives or interfere in its life." (C.C.C. # 2209)

"The importance of the family for the life and well-being of society [GS 47.1] entails a particular responsibility for society to support and strengthen marriage and the family. Civil authority should consider it a grave duty 'to acknowledge the true nature of marriage and the family, to protect and foster them, to safeguard public morality, and promote domestic prosperity.'" [GS 52.2] (C.C.C. # 2210)

What are the duties of the political community? "The political community has a duty to honour the family, to assist it, and to ensure especially:

- the freedom to establish a family, have children, and bring them up in keeping with the family's own moral and religious convictions;

- the protection of the stability of the marriage bond and the institution of the family;

- the freedom to profess one's faith, to hand it on, and raise one's children in it, with the necessary means and institutions;

- the right to private property, to free enterprise, to obtain work and housing, and the right to emigrate;

- in keeping with the country's institutions, the right to medical care, assistance for the aged, and family benefits;

- the protection of security and health, especially with respect to dangers like drugs, pornography, alcoholism, etc.;

- the freedom to form associations with other families and so to have representation before civil authority." [FC 46] (C.C.C. # 2211)

"The fourth commandment illuminates other relationships in society. In our brothers and sisters we see the children of our parents; in our cousins, the descendants of our ancestors; in our fellow citizens, the children of our country; in the baptized, the children of our mother the Church; in every human person, a son or daughter of the One who wants to be called "our Father." In this way our relationships with our neighbors are recognized as personal in character. The neighbor is not a "unit" in the human collective; he is "someone" who by his known origins deserves particular attention and respect." (C.C.C. # 2212)

"Human communities are made up of persons. Governing them well is not limited to guaranteeing rights and fulfilling duties such as honouring contracts. Right relations between employers and employees, between those who govern and citizens, presuppose a natural good will in keeping with the dignity of human persons concerned for justice and fraternity." (C.C.C. # 2213)

Now, the duties of children in a family must not be forgotten! What are they? "The divine fatherhood is the source of human fatherhood; [Eph. 3:14] this is the foundation of the honour owed to parents. The respect of children, whether minors or adults, for their father and mother [Prov. 1:8; Tob. 4:3-4] is nourished by the natural affection born of the bond uniting them. It is required by God's commandment. [Ex. 20:12] (C.C.C. # 2214)

"Respect for parents (filial piety) derives from gratitude toward those who, by the gift of life, their love and their work, have brought their children into the world and enabled them to grow in stature, wisdom, and grace. 'With all your heart honour your father, and do not forget the birth pangs of your mother. Remember that through your parents you were born; what can you give back to them that equals their gift to you?'" [Sir. 7:27-28] (C.C.C. # 2215)

"Filial respect is shown by true docility and obedience. "My son, keep your father's commandment, and forsake not your mother's teaching... When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you." [Prov. 6:20-22] "A wise son hears his father's instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke." [Prov. 13:1] (C.C.C. # 2216)

"As long as a child lives at home with his parents, the child should obey his parents in all that they ask of him when it is for his good or that of the family. 'Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.' [Col. 3:20; Eph. 6:1] Children should also obey the reasonable directions of their teachers and all to whom their parents have entrusted them. But if a child is convinced in conscience that it would be morally wrong to obey a particular order, he must not do so. As they grow up, children should continue to respect their parents. They should anticipate their wishes, willingly seek their advice, and accept their just admonitions. Obedience toward parents ceases with the emancipation of the children; not so respect, which is always owed to them. This respect has its roots in the fear of God, one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit." (C.C.C. # 2217)

"The fourth commandment reminds grown children of their responsibilities toward their parents. As much as they can, they must give them material and moral support in old age and in times of illness, loneliness, or distress. Jesus recalls this duty of gratitude. [Mk. 7:10-12] For the Lord honoured the father above the children, and he confirmed the right of the mother over her sons. Whoever honours his father atones for sins, and whoever glorifies his mother is like one who lays up treasure. Whoever honours his father will be gladdened by his own children, and when he prays he will be heard. Whoever glorifies his father will have long life, and whoever obeys the Lord will refresh his mother. [Sir. 3:2-6] O son, help your father in his old age, and do not grieve him as long as he lives; even if he is lacking in understanding, show forbearance; in all your strength do not despise him... Whoever forsakes his father is like a blasphemer, and whoever angers his mother is cursed by the Lord. [Sir. 3:12-13, 16] (C.C.C. # 2218)

"Filial respect promotes harmony in all of family life; it also concerns relationships between brothers and sisters. Respect toward parents fills the home with light and warmth. "Grandchildren are the crown of the aged." [Prov. 17:6] "With all humility and meekness, with patience, [support] one another in charity.' [Eph. 4:2] (C.C.C. # 2219)

"For Christians a special gratitude is due to those from whom they have received the gift of faith, the grace of Baptism, and life in the Church. These may include parents, grandparents, other members of the family, pastors, catechists, and other teachers or friends. 'I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you." [2 Tim. 1:5] (C.C.C. # 2220)

And what about the duties of the parents in the family? "The fecundity of conjugal love cannot be reduced solely to the procreation of children, but must extend to their moral education and their spiritual formation. 'The role of parents in education is of such importance that it is almost impossible to provide an adequate substitute.' [GE 3] The right and the duty of parents to educate their children are primordial and inalienable. [FC 36] (C.C.C. # 2221)

"Parents must regard their children as children of God and respect them as human persons. Showing themselves obedient to the will of the Father in heaven, they educate their children to fulfill God's law." (C.C.C. # 2222)

"Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for education in the virtues. This requires an apprenticeship in self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery - the preconditions of all true freedom. Parents should teach their children to subordinate the 'material and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones.' [CA 36.2] Parents have a grave responsibility to give good example to their children. By knowing how to acknowledge their own failings to their children, parents will be better able to guide and correct them: He who loves his son will not spare the rod... He who disciplines his son will profit by him. [Sir. 30:1-2] Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." [Eph. 6:4] (C.C.C. # 2223)

"The home is the natural environment for initiating a human being into solidarity and communal responsibilities. Parents should teach children to avoid the compromising and degrading influences which threaten human societies." (C.C.C. # 2224)

"Through the grace of the sacrament of marriage, parents receive the responsibility and privilege of evangelizing their children. Parents should initiate their children at an early age into the mysteries of the faith of which they are the 'first heralds' for their children. They should associate them from their tenderest years with the life of the Church. [LG 11.2] A wholesome family life can foster interior dispositions that are a genuine preparation for a living faith and remain a support for it throughout one's life." (C.C.C. # 2225)

"Education in the faith by the parents should begin in the child's earliest years. This already happens when family members help one another to grow in faith by the witness of a Christian life in keeping with the Gospel. Family catechesis precedes, accompanies, and enriches other forms of instruction in the faith. Parents have the mission of teaching their children to pray and to discover their vocation as children of God. [LG 11] The parish is the Eucharistic community and the heart of the liturgical life of Christian families; it is a privileged place for the catechesis of children and parents." (C.C.C. # 2226)

"Children in turn contribute to the growth in holiness of their parents. [GS 48.4] Each and everyone should be generous and tireless in forgiving one another for offenses, quarrels, injustices, and neglect. Mutual affection suggests this. The charity of Christ demands it." [Mt. 18:21-22; Lk. 17:4] (C.C.C. # 2227)

"Parents' respect and affection are expressed by the care and attention they devote to bringing up their young children and providing for their physical and spiritual needs. As the children grow up, the same respect and devotion lead parents to educate them in the right use of their reason and freedom." (C.C.C. # 2228)

"As those first responsible for the education of their children, parents have the right to choose a school for them which corresponds to their own convictions. This right is fundamental. As far as possible parents have the duty of choosing schools that will best help them in their task as Christian educators. [GE 6] Public authorities have the duty of guaranteeing this parental right and of ensuring the concrete conditions for its exercise." (C.C.C. # 2229)

"When they become adults, children have the right and duty to choose their profession and state of life. They should assume their new responsibilities within a trusting relationship with their parents, willingly asking and receiving their advice and counsel. Parents should be careful not to exert pressure on their children either in the choice of a profession or in that of a spouse. This necessary restraint does not prevent them - quite the contrary from giving their children judicious advice, particularly when they are planning to start a family." (C.C.C. # 2230)

"Some forgo marriage in order to care for their parents or brothers and sisters, to give themselves more completely to a profession, or to serve other honourable ends. They can contribute greatly to the good of the human family." (C.C.C. # 2231)

This summarizes the meaning of a Holy Family that has made its home in the Lord Jesus. As we continue with the celebration of the Holy Mass, let us ask the Heavenly Father to help us to live as the holy family, united in respect and love. Let us ask Him to bring us to the joy and peace of our eternal home.

May the peace of Christ rule in our hearts, and the fullness of His message live within us.

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The readings...

[The readings were taken from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (C) 1989 Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the United States of America.]

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First Reading...

"For the Lord honours a father above his children, and he confirms a mother's right over her children. Those who honour their father atone for sins, and those who respect their mother are like those who lay up treasure. Those who honour their father will have joy in their own children, and when they pray they will be heard. Those who respect their father will have long life, and those who honour their mother obey the Lord.

My child, help your father in his old age, and do not grieve him as long as he lives; even if his mind fails, be patient with him; because you have all your faculties do not despise him. For kindness to a father will not be forgotten, and will be credited to you against your sins." [Sir. 3:2-6, 12-4]

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Second Reading...

"As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting to the Lord. Husbands love your wives and never treat them harshly.

Children, obey your parents in everything for this is your acceptable duty in the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, or they may lose heart." [Col. 3:12-21]

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Gospel Reading...

"After the wise men had left, and angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, 'Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.' Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, 'Out of Egypt I have called my son.'

When Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, 'Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child's life are dead.' Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel.

But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee. There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, 'He will be called a Nazorean.'" [Mt. 2:13-15, 19-23]

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