In this season marked by family gatherings, it is appropriate that we celebrate today the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. When God the Son, the second person of the Blessed Trinity, became incarnate in human flesh, he became a member of a human family and of the human family. God entrusted to the care of Mary and Joseph his divine Son, just as he entrusts to the care of their parents all children born into this world. Since all of us are children of God, parents should receive and nurture their children with the same reverence and love with which Mary and Joseph cared for Jesus. Likewise children should obey and love their parents as Jesus was obedient to Mary and Joseph.
Wednesday, on New Year’s Day, we celebrate the second of the three solemnities of the Christmas season: the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. Without Mary’s cooperation, God’s plan for our salvation could not have come to completion. On this day we express our debt of gratitude to Mary, whose response to God was: “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word.” This solemnity is a holy day of obligation. There will be Mass at St. Charles Tuesday evening at 5:30 and Wednesday morning at 8:30; and at St. Peter on Wednesday morning at 9:00.
For 53 years January 1 has been observed by Catholics, at least, as the World Day of Peace. For his message for the 53rd annual World Day of Peace, Pope Francis has chosen the theme, “Peace as a Journey of Hope: Dialogue, Reconciliation and Ecological Conversion.” Conversion is not something that happens in an instant or in isolation from others. He writes:
The journey of reconciliation calls for patience and trust. Peace will not be obtained unless it is hoped for. In the first place, this means believing in the possibility of peace, believing that others need peace just as much as we do. Here we can find inspiration in the love that God has for each of us: a love that is liberating, limitless, gratuitous and tireless.”
Every journey has a beginning. If, as the song says, it should begin with me, then the sacrament of Penance is a good place to start. The Holy Father concludes:
For the followers of Christ, this journey is likewise sustained by the sacrament of Reconciliation, given by the Lord for the remission of sins of the baptized. This sacrament of the Church, which renews individuals and communities, bids us keep our gaze fixed on Jesus, who reconciled “all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross” (Colossians 1:20). It requires us to set aside every act of violence in thought, word and deed, whether against our neighbors or against God’s creation.
The grace of God our Father is bestowed as unconditional love. Having received his forgiveness in Christ, we can set out to offer that peace to the men and women of our time. Day by day, the Holy Spirit prompts in us ways of thinking and speaking that can make us artisans of justice and peace.
Today’s celebration of the Holy Family naturally leads us to Wednesday’s celebration of the World Day of Peace on the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. Thus the Holy Father concludes his message: “May Mary, Mother of the Prince of Peace and Mother of all the peoples of the earth, accompany and sustain us at every step of our journey of reconciliation.” To read the Holy Father’s message in its entirety, go to <w2.vatican.va>, click on the English logo, then click on “Messages,” then “World Day of Peace.” http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/peace.index.html
Father Hokamp and I wish to thank all who remembered us with prayers, cards, gifts, homemade treats and wines this Christmas. It is always heartwarming to know how much our ministry means to you. I want to express gratitude also to all who donated and delivered cookies to our homebound parishioners before Christmas. I can assure you, from those I visited, that they were very much appreciated.
Enjoy these holy holidays as you gather with family and friends. Pray for the safety of all who are traveling during these days and remember those who are far from home, especially those serving overseas.
May God bless us all throughout the coming year.