Two days after Christmas this year we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. This feast tends to be lost in the glory of Christmas. It deserves a better fate. The family is the place where we first learn of faith and love. The family is the first place where we meet Jesus. As our Baptismal rite says “(parents)…are the first and best teachers of their children in the ways of faith…”

From the Holy Family of Nazareth we learn the value of obedience. Jesus went down to Nazareth and was obedient to Mary and Joseph. We learn also the value of a more simple style of life. How important today to teach our children by example as well as word, the difference between needs and wants, the value of self-denial and self-sacrifice, the importance of being team players in an overly individualistic world.

So perhaps we should pray to the Holy Family for all the families of our parish and of our world. May we and they teach the next generation to walk in the ways of peace and brotherhood taught to us by the Lord Jesus, born to us in that little town of Bethlehem. This is indeed a great challenge! But a necessary one. As you and I are most aware there is much to be done.

On the nine nights before Christmas people in Mexican villages give Mary and Joseph a better reception than they got long ago in Bethlehem. The Mexican people commemorate “has Posades”, meaning the inns or lodging places. After dark the villagers walk in a long procession carrying candles and playing musical instruments as they bring the figures of Mary and Joseph to the host family of that evening. They knock on the door, ask for shelter and the hosts welcome the Holy Family into their home. “Come into our humble home”, the hosts say, “and welcome. And may the Lord give shelter to my soul when I leave this world.”

This Christmas time do we welcome the Holy Family into our hearts and homes? Christ on His birthday calls us to heal divisions among our family and friends, to welcome into our lives and homes those from whom we are estranged. Every Christmas can be a new opportunity to become a “better innkeeper” to reach out in love to all who need the light and warmth that Jesus alone brings into our homes and world.

Merry Christmas and may the Lord be always in your hearts and homes!!