Feast of the Holy Family
Genesis 15:1-6, 21:1-3
Hebrews 11:8, 11-12, 17-19
When I would sit where you are, I would come to this feast day of the Holy family hoping for words of great encouragement. As I stand here now, I hope I can give you words of great encouragement. To be honest with you, I always feel a bit uneasy speaking about family life, because after a failed marriage, I wonder if it would not be better for one of you to speak on this feast day.
As I was preparing for today something happened in Denver where I spent the last few days with my son-in-law, my daughter and my granddaughter Eleanor to help me prepare to share words of encouragement. One of the best parts of the day with Eleanor is when she wakes up in the morning, and all she wants to do is snuggly for a few minutes before she gets down to play. One morning as I was holding her to my chest, I could feel her heart beating against my chest. All of a sudden, Eleanor lifted her head from my chest, looked right into my eyes as if to say, “Grandpa, I can feel your heart beating against my chest.” What a God moment that was! I couldn’t help but think of everything that has happened in my life up to this moment. I would not change a thing about my life, because it brought me to that moment. I hope to hand onto you today words of encouragement and that would be we need to show up and wait for God to act.
In our reading from Genesis, God tells Abram to leave his native land and go a land that he will show him. Abram responds, “Lord, God, I am showing up, but what good is all your promises if Sarai and I do not have a child!” God acts and gives them a child and his descendants will be as numerous as the stars. Abram begs for a family because he knows to grow in holiness takes a community to draw us out of our self-centeredness.
In our Gospel, Mary, and Joseph, bring the baby Jesus to the temple as prescribed. In the temple, that day is Simeon and an old man who was told he would not die until he sees the Lord. Also in the temple, is Anna, a prophetess who is advanced in years and she lived in the temple waiting for the Lord to come and the redemption of Israel. Simeon and Anna are waiting, anticipating something to happen in their lives. All of us know what that feels like to wait days, months, and years to be free of guilt, grief, as we wait for a change. The miracle of Simeon and Anna is not that they experienced the Christ child, but that they both showed up day in and day out with great hope and they never gave up. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to show up! Will we continue to show up even when things look the darkest?
My friends in Christ, is family life hard? Yes! Is marriage difficult at times? Absolutely! The Feast of the Holy family teaches us that we need to show up and be present to God because he is already present to us. We need to live in great hope that whatever we are praying for God is taking care of right now. May our heart and God’s heartbeat as one as we wait on the Lord.