WE ARE FAMILY! Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Family of Nazareth. As we meditate on that most perfect family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph it is the PERFECT opportunity to reflect
on the state of our own families. And beyond each of our biological families I propose a reflection on the state of our faith family as well. In case it hasn't been noticed I quite frequently refer to our grouping of four parishes as a FAMILY. That is a VERY DELIBERATE choice on my part, brothers and sisters! (Did you get that subtle reference?!)
Of course, anyone with even a glancing familiarity with Sacred Writ understands that from beginning to end Scripture is suffused with familial language and imagery. As we transition from the Old Testament to the New that image becomes more inclusive; for the Jewish people membership in "the family" was restricted by and large to those who were, by blood, members of the Jewish race. Jesus expanded "the family" to include
all who accepted him, regardless of the race of people to which they belonged.
That Old-to-New-Testament transition towards a greater inclusiveness is precisely the situation in which we find ourselves. Not that long ago (mere months for our "youngest" family member!) we were four separate families. And now through “marriage” (admittedly ARRANGED marriages) we have become one. That certainly brings with it challenges. (Pop culture videoaid: think of the challenges Carol and Mike faced in integrating Greg, Peter, and Bobby with Marsha, Jan, and Cindy!) In the past six and a half years, to the great credit of our parishioners, many challenges have been met and overcome. It has been my greatest joy watching this maturation in the family of which I am symbolically the head (there is logic behind my title "Father!). As I have made clear in this space already, I have been especially DELIGHTED at the preternatural swiftness with which Saint Aloysius has willing integrated into its new family! I would gladly propose them as a PERFECT model to be imitated by other parishes being partnered.
If you have been a regular reader of this weekly column (and its predecessor "Rambles and Rants") you undoubtedly also know that there are challenges that have NOT been met and overcome. Admittedly, I tend to harp on those unmet challenges, but I'm doing it for YOUR good. Think of me as an annoying parent; I only harp because I want the BEST for my children. I want you to be ALL YOU CAN BE!
On this last Sunday of Anno Domini Two Thousand Eighteen, on the cusp of a brand new year (and as I look forward to my seventh anniversary as your Pastor) my fervent desire is that EVERY parishioner will overcome any INORDINATE attachment to THEIR church (and VERY SADLY - for a very, very, very few - positive HATRED of the other churches) and embrace their role as members of the bigger family of Our Lady, Queen of the Yough Catholic Community. We will be so much more effective in our primary mission of proclaiming the GOOD NEWS of the Kingdom if we all come together. I am profoundly thankful for the many who are already onboard and trust that the Lord will touch the hearts of the few recalcitrants who seem to be holding out for a past that will NEVER return.
May the words of Sister Sledge's 1979 hit - and the Pirate's World Series anthem that year (yes, Virginia, there WAS a winning MLB team in town!) - be Our Lady, Queen of the Yough Catholic Community theme song in 2019:
Ev'ryone can see we're together
As we walk on by
(Hey) and we fly just like birds of a feather
I won't tell no lie
(ALL!) all of the people around us they say
Can they be that close
Just let me state for the record
We're giving love in a family dose!
We are family I got all my sisters [and Brothers!] with me
We are family Get up ev'rybody and sing
We are family
I got all my sisters [and Brothers!] with me
We are family
Get up ev'rybody and sing!
COVER PHOTO: A beautiful old picture of the Holy Family, hanging in Waters House. If my memory serves me correctly this was a wedding gift to my (step) Grandmother and her first husband, Bernard Hawkins, on the occasion of their marriage in 1929.
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