We come to church to celebrate our Lord’s birth.  On Sunday, we expand that celebration to his immediate family, the Holy Family.  Mary and Joseph cared for their son, raising Him in the religious traditions of their Jewish faith.  Luke says of Jesus after he is found in the temple teaching, “Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man.”  We pray that our families may provide that same fertile ground for all of us to grow similarly.

Sunday’s readings have good fundamental advice for families in any time, in any place.  Sirach counsels us as to how to treat our parents throughout our lives, particularly as they age.  We owe our parents care and compassion, for we are indebted to God, our Father, for all that we have received.  In one simple paragraph, the author of Colossians sums up the many qualities that should characterize all our relationships, for we are all brothers and sisters.  Easily, overlooked is the shortest sentence:  “And be thankful.”  A thankful attitude reminds us to look for God’s blessings even during difficult times.

How can we apply the lessons from scripture to the various families we belong to: my immediate family, my extended family, my parish family, my family at work or school, the entire human family?

January 1 is the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God.  Since this holy day falls on a Saturday, the obligation to attend Mass drops out.  Through the years this first day of the New Year celebrated a number of occasions.  It is the eighth day since Christmas.  Therefore the Octave Day of the Nativity of the Lord, the circumcision, and also the naming of Jesus was celebrated.  And since it is the first day of the New Year, The Holy Father designates January 1st as the World Day of Prayer for Peace.  We will be celebrating the primary focus of Christmas by celebrating Epiphany of the Lord at the usual 5:00 PM Mass.

On behalf of Fred, Carl, Donna, Mary Jo, Linda, Dale, Fr. George, and myself, we extend to you, your family, and friends a most blessed New Year filled with love, joy, and peace.

-Fr. Bob


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