PRV 21: 1-6, 10-13 / PS 119: 1, 27, 30, 34, 35, 44 / LK 8: 19-21
Today’s Gospel, while short, presents us with a very powerful and challenging meditation about our families. In today’s Gospel St. Luke recounts an incident from Jesus’ life when the Blessed Virgin and some of Jesus’ relatives came to visit him and upon seeing the crowd gathered around Jesus, they send someone to get Him. Rather than stop what He is doing to see His family Jesus recognizes He is with His new family, those who listen to the Word of God and put it into practice, the new Christian community, and continues with His work.
My brothers and sisters, those of us who aspire to follow after Christ, and most especially those of us who desire to be alter Christuses must take this example of Christ to heart. When we put our faces down on that cold marble at the Cathedral we surrender our entire life and while as diocesan priests we are blessed to have many freedoms, this means we need to be willing to give up everything, including our family, for the sake of the people of God. In my short time as a deacon I have come to realize that it is not just I who is affected by that total surrender, in many ways my family is asked to give me up. While I do my best to be with my family, my primary obligation is to my parish. I will not be with my family on Christmas Eve because the parish has Masses, I will meet with my family on Christmas night, but I will be exhausted from being up late on Christmas Eve and up early for Christmas day Masses.
While this may seem depressing there is something very beautiful about living our lives as priests in this new family. In my short time as a deacon I have been humbled by how people welcome us into their lives and in their generosity provide for us. While I have to sacrifice time with my natural family, hundreds of families at the parish have adopted me into their own family. Regardless of where you find yourself in your relationship with your family, when you lay prostrate on the floor of the Cathedral you will be offering your total life to Christ and His Church and in so doing you will take on a new family, the family of the Church. As you prepare I can think of no better way than to begin developing a devotion to our Blessed Mother, the saints and your brother seminarians, who will be our companions in the journey of the priesthood.
All of us are called to the Christian family, to be united with the Church, both here on earth, in heaven and in purgatory. Our natural families certainly play important roles in our lives but we must be willing to follow the example of Christ who calls us into the Christian family which at times will require us to make sacrifices with our natural families. As we approach this Holy Eucharist, which unites us to our Christian family, let us ask the Lord to enlighten our hearts to show us the great gift of our natural families and ask Him to prepare us to serve Him totally, making us willing to totally give up lives, even time with our natural families to serve His family.