Homily — Holy Family C December 31, 2006

Homily — Holy Family MMVI December 31, 2006

Nativity Fresco by Blessed Fra Angelico
And (in the family,) Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man.

As the well known saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” And while that is usually true, when it comes to our Catholic Faith, there are two pictures that taken together are worth the whole Bible.

And during the Christmas season, each time we come to Mass those two great pictures are dramatically depicted before our eyes: the Nativity scene, and the Crucifix.

In these two images we have the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End of Christ’s earthly life. These two images also give us the whole teaching of Christ: about loving and believing in God, and about loving and respecting one’s neighbor.

The Crucifix and the Creche also compliment each other and are dependent on each other to tell the whole story: the Crucifix becomes just another execution of a condemned criminal without the Manger preceding it; and the Creche becomes a sham fairy tale without the saving death and resurrection of Christ coming after it.

While a picture is worth a thousand words, some of those words have more worth than others. In the Nativity, the One Main “Word” spoken by the picture is the Baby Jesus, the Word made Flesh. This is of course the main reason why we kneel before an image of the Nativity, to worship and adore God become a Baby.

But we do more than just adore and worship Jesus when we
kneel before a Nativity. At the very same time, we also honor and reverence certain things surrounding the Baby Jesus in the creche, things very essential to Christ’s coming to us as our Savior.

For example, kneeling before the creche, we reverence and honor the Mother of God, which is the focus of January 1st’s Mass. We even reverence and honor Holy Poverty, the life of simplicity Jesus voluntarily took on and calls us to also voluntarily take on.

And today we focus on another essential thing the Nativity scene pays honor and reverence to: the Christian Family.

One of the major “words” the Nativity picture speaks is that God, from all eternity, chose to be born into a traditional family of one man and one woman, married to each other, in life long fidelity.

God the Father obviously holds this type of family unit in the highest esteem. Jesus His Son wasn’t born of a polygamous family, nor of a cohabitating, non married couple, nor of same sex couples. No, God only came to us – and, Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today and forever, God only comes to us, – through what we might rightly call the holy Family, small h, of one man and one woman in a life long covenant of love, respect, and fidelity.

It was within this holy family unit that today’s Gospel says Jesus advanced in wisdom and years and favor before God and man.

My brothers and sisters in Christ! If we want Jesus today to advance in our world; if we want His Wisdom to advance, if we want His favor, that is to say, His blessings and peace to advance in our day; Then we have to realize Jesus will only grow strong in our society to the degree that traditional marriage and family is strong in our society.

And if we fail to continue to give reverence and esteem, and, yes, if we fail to give preferential treatment to this holy institution of marriage and the family in our society, the wisdom and favor of Jesus will retreat before modern man, more and more.

May we, and the many people of good will in our Western culture who still put up Nativity scenes this time of year, be touched by the baby Jesus to wake up and save the holy Family and Holy Matrimony before it’s too late to save it in our culture.

And for all of us who are striving to live and defend the Christian ideal of family, may we not only the image of the Creche always before us, but also that other image which completes the picture of marriage and the family — the Cross of Christ. For every marriage and family has in its center the saving mystery of the Cross, or else it wouldn’t be a Christian marriage or family.

May Jesus, Mary, and Joseph bless and strengthen all holy families this Christmas Season and coming New Year.

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