Sunday, December 31, 2017

Homily for Today

Good morning my brothers and sisters in Christ. I trust that your spirits are still shining as holy families during this very special liturgical time frame.

Today's Feast of the Holy Family and the readings that we have just heard are both in perfect harmony with the Season of Christmas. Both examples teach us to respect and love one another in perfect union. The family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Abraham and Sirah, both lived righteous lives in the eyes of the Lord God.

As we have heard from the First Reading, the Word of the Lord came to Abraham in a vision. Today, the Word of the Lord comes to us through the Church, the priests, the Church Sacraments, Tradition, and through the readings of the Holy Scriptures. Therefore, as God came to His loved ones in the days of Holy Bible according to His past Divine Plan, He comes to us today according to His present Divine Plan for us.

As today's First Reading revealed to us, Abraham and Sarah were childless and advanced in age. They were concerned that whatever they possessed, it would be handed down to a slave as their heirs. But, God told Abraham that this was not so. If he was to look up in the sky at all the stars, God promised that his descendants would be as many as those shining lights.

Abraham believed the Word of God that was fulfilled and his faith made him righteous in the eyes of the Lord. It is the same with us. After having received the Sacrament of Baptism through faith in Jesus Christ, if we believe and obey the teachings of the Holy Catholic Church that were instituted by our Lord on earth, then our Sacramental living faith makes us righteous in the eyes of God.

Through the faith of Abraham began the progressive growth of God's chosen people. Once, God's chosen people was limited to the Jewish Nation. But now, since the glorious resurrection of Christ, it has been extended to all the Gentiles of every nation, that including us. Therefore, as God's children, Abraham is our spiritual father.

In a way, all of us are spiritual parents. The priest, when he baptizes an infant or a new convert, a transformation takes place within the person. Being born again, the new convert becomes a new creation of the godly seed. As such, the priest becomes the spiritual father of those that he baptizes.

The parents, when God blesses them with the gift of a new baby or an adopted child, the parents are not just biological or adoptive parents. They are also the spiritual parent of the new baby or the adopted child, being responsible for its upbringing in the living faith.

To remain righteous in the eyes of God, the priest has to obey God by ministering to his new spiritual children and equally, the parents have to obey God by teaching the Word of God to their children. This is a big responsibility, one that protects the holiness of the spiritual family.

By obeying God in our living faith, we are assured of His ongoing blessings. Abraham and Sarah had their child because they believed and obeyed. Because the priests believe and obey, their ministries continue generation after generation, some of the newly baptized spiritual children becoming priests. Because the parents believe and obey, their children will raise their children in the living faith, this increasing the number of spiritual children to the original parents. Everyone is rewarded according to his work.

As Abraham believed in faith and set out for a place where he was to receive his inheritance, not knowing where he was going, we are also called to walk in blind faith, not knowing where God's Divine Will will lead us. Being moved by the Holy Spirit, we answer our calling, doing God's work, and trust in the Lord to provide what is best for our spiritual growth. While we do not know what tomorrow holds for us, our faith, hope and trust tell us that this is the best thing to do to remain in favour with God as holy families.

As Abraham had his faith tested when God asked him to sacrifice his only son Isaac, we are also tested by God. Sometimes God allows things to happen in our lives so He can test our love for Him, our perseverance, our faith in the blessed hope to come or even for the purpose of sanctifying us in the fruit of the Holy Spirit. In the end, it makes us all better children of God, shining holy families.

When listening to today's Reading from the Gospel of Luke, we heard how Mary and Joseph also had to obey God. As the parents of Jesus, they were not exempted from their spiritual obligations to the Jewish law. As you have been commanded by Jesus to present your children to be baptized, Mary and Joseph also had to present Jesus at the Temple to the Lord, offering the necessary sacrifice that was required by law.

As we heard today, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. He was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel. Through the Holy Spirit, it had been revealed to Simeon that he would not die until such time as he had seen the Messiah. Guided to the Temple by the Holy Spirit, Simeon finally experienced God's promise when he saw Mary and Joseph with Baby Jesus. Holding Jesus in his hands, he praised God.

When Simeon told Mary and Joseph what had been revealed to him about baby Jesus, His parents were amazed. Now, in the Temple, there lived an 84 years old widow by the name of Anna who was a prophet. She spent her days worshipping and fasting, praying day and night. At the moment when Mary and Joseph were finished with Simeon, Anna came and began to praise God and to speak about the Child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

As we can appreciate, the experience that Mary and Joseph enjoyed by the presences of Simeon and Anna were blessings of God. In the same way, we as spiritual parents are also blessed by God. Our experiences may not be as outstanding as the ones enjoyed by Mary and Joseph. Nevertheless, we are still blessed in many ways through our spiritual children.

If we are to open our hearts, our eyes and our ears, surely, the Holy Spirit will guide us regarding the need of our spiritual children. When we see a child that has a God given talent in music, we are to encourage this talent for the glory of God. When we are told by someone to start teaching our children how to pray at an early age, we should view this as someone who is speaking as God's instrument to ensure that we will have holy children. In many ways, the Holy Spirit moves daily in our lives, sometimes even speaking through our children for our own spiritual benefit. We should always keep our hearts, our eyes and our ears open!

United in respect and love, as family members, we should all strive to be holy children of God who live in holy families. As Mary and Joseph, Abraham and Sirah, all placed their faith in the Lord God, we also should place our faith in the Lord God. For it is He who is the provider of all good things.

Today, the Lord God reminded us that He loves us. He reminded us that He wants us to be holy families, living by the example of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Through today's readings, the Lord God reminded us that He blesses those who obey Him and live their faith in Christ.

May God's Words be sealed in our hearts so we may never forget our spiritual responsibility towards others, our loved ones, our relatives, our neighbours, our co-workers, and even the strangers, so we may all share in the joy of being holy families in Christ.

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