Holy Family B

Take care of your father.

Back in the 1860’s the children of Edmond Dwyer of County Limerick came to the United States to live. They sent back a portion of their earnings to support their “Da,” but it was not very much and it did not always reach him regularly.

In June, 1870 Edmond wrote to his son, Tom, in Corning telling him that he had been ill and was out of funds. He had written him earlier for help but had received no answer thus far.

“I am very angry with you,” said the old man, “for not sending me the money. I suppose you are going to close upon it and let me live on the pension as it falls due, after mention to me that you would send it me according as I might want it. Now I want it badly and never wanted it more, as I want to buy a bed and clothes. I bought none for the last seven years but shoes and a hat. The hat cost me only six shillings, but getting them from friends. This is the last time I will write you to send me ten pound, and if not I will curse you while I live and getting in the poor house and die there!”

A strong Irish threat to a (supposedly) selfish son! Despite the threat, Edmond signed the letter: “I am yours truly and affectionate, Father, Edmond Dwyer.” As Holy Family Sunday should remind us, “Blood is thicker than water.”

“… My son, take care of your father when he is old; grieve him not as long as he lives. Even if his mind fails, be considerate with him.” (Sirach, 3:12-13. Today’s first reading.)

-Father Robert F. McNamara

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Q508: Families are a place where “holiness” is allowed to grow in a loving environment. How would today’s gospel apply that reality to us?

Today’s gospel (Luke 2:22-40) focuses on the Holy Family and their encounter with two holy lay people, Simeon and Anna, who were “awaiting the redemption of Israel.” It is clear that they were steeped in the tradition of the Mosaic Law, especially the prophets. So they would have been raised and instructed in that tradition as young people, deepening their anticipation as they grew older and wiser. In turn, they would have passed on the stories within that tradition, all which pointed to a Messiah who would come and redeem Israel.

All of the old testament stories and prophecies pointed forward to their fulfillment in the one to come, the Messiah. You and I now have the benefit of hindsight, and the gift of faith. We know that fulfillment came in the person of Jesus the Christ, who by his life, death and resurrection redeemed the entire world. We now have our own Tradition, centered on Jesus.

Consider yourself to be a Simeon or an Anna. To whom do you pass on the stories of fulfillment in and through Jesus Christ? Who will inherit a deeper understanding of our Tradition because of your efforts? Do you ever share the fascinating stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, and the prophets, teaching your children and grandchildren how the promises made to them were fulfilled in Jesus Christ? Do your children and grandchildren really understand what Joseph and Mary were doing in the temple in today’s story?

One of the easiest yet greatest things we can do is to become good story-tellers, passing on our scriptural faith foundation and thereby bringing others closer to Christ. Become a channel of wisdom, and help others grow in wisdom before God.

KNOW YOUR CATECHISM! The sword of sorrow predicted for Mary announces Christ’s perfect and unique oblation on the cross that will impart the salvation God had promised (CCC #529). All of us are called to holiness, and to imitate the lives of the saints who can intercede for us (CCC #2013).

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