December 30, 2018 - Pastor Message12/09/2019
“For I, the Lord, am your God; and you shall make and keep yourselves holy, because I am holy” (Leviticus 11:44).
“Then Jesus’ mother and his brothers came to him but were unable to join him because of the crowd. He was told, ‘Your mother and your brothers are standing outside and they wish to see you.’ He said to them in reply, ‘My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it’” (Luke 8:1921).
This weekend we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, giving us a special opportunity to reflect on holiness and family. What does it mean to be holy? What does it mean for Christians to be family? And how do Jesus, Mary, and Joseph image both of these for us today?
Holiness means Godlikeness that comes from our communion with God. By dedicating ourselves to God each day and striving with the help of his grace to serve his purposes, God’s light shines through us for all to see. This is his plan for us, that the image of God in which we are created and which Christ came to restore might show more and more clearly through our words and actions and by this that we come to share the Father’s glory.
We do not do this alone, however. We give the greatest glory to God, who is a communion of persons in the Trinity, by the communion of loving service that we share with one another. Christian holiness requires community, and we can only fulfill God’s purpose for us by living in faithful, loving relationships with others. The first and most basic community in which we are called to image God is our family, which, for Christians, is defined less by biological or legal bonds than by a shared quest for holiness, hearing God’s Word together and supporting one another daily in acting on it. The Christian family is a school of holiness where we learn what holiness means and grow in our efforts to live it, first by loving and serving each other, and then by reaching out together beyond the family to love and serve our neighbors through our family of faith, the Church, embodied locally in our parish.
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph image what it means to truly be a holy family by constantly hearing God’s Word and acting on it. We see it in Mary’s great “Yes” to the message of the angel, agreeing to be Christ’s mother, even when it meant putting her own life at risk. We see it in Joseph’s “Yes” too, agreeing to take Mary as his bride, even when her premarital pregnancy gave the appearance of infidelity. We see it when Mary and Joseph took the infant Jesus and fled their home as refugees from King Herod’s murderous wrath, and we see it when, at the message of an angel, they returned to live and work their daily lives to raise this mysterious boy. Time after time, the Holy Family shows us what it means to be a holy family, all the way to Calvary, when Jesus gave his life on the cross according to the Father’s will and Mary, his mother, stood by his side the whole time. May the example of the Holy Family inspire us to make and keep our families holy throughout the coming year and beyond, letting the image of God shine through our loving service of one another.
Fr. Marc Stockton