Keeping the Faith During Trying Times

Feast of The Holy Family
By Deacon Dick Kostner

“Mary, did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?  Mary, did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?  Did you know that your baby boy is Heaven’s perfect Lamb?  That sleeping child you’re holding is the great “I Am“?

The answer to the lyrics just quoted from the popular Christmas Song “Mary did you know?” is “No! Not everything,” according to Pope John Paul II. She did not know everything at once and it is displayed in our gospel proclaimed in today’s Liturgy.

The morning I began to prepare for this homily I saw some very disturbing statistics from an article in The Wall Street Journal. Americans who pray daily was 58% in 2007, this dropped to 45% in 2021; Americans who identified themselves as Christians was 78% in 2007, in 2021 this dropped to 63%. This downward trend began long before COVID but increased during the pandemic. At our own parish we have experienced a substantial decline in attendance at Sunday Mass, especially family attendance. Other parishes have had similar declines.

So what’s going on? Our gospel displays to us the problem but it also gives us the answer to the problem. The problem is rooted in both mental and physical sufferings that are a part of the human experience. Sacred Scripture lays it out very well. Humans get sick, go blind, struggle with raising children, have disagreements with spouses and family, and yes the big one, death and when we pray for help we expect results not tomorrow but right now. All of these were experienced by Jesus the big question is: “Why?” The answer is a mystery we are incapable of understanding, but God did gift us with how we can get through these sufferings and anxieties when he sent His Son to experience these struggles and to supply us with the cure, and that is faith that the Father loves us, His Holy Family, and has a plan for us to follow and find happiness even while suffering, through His Holy Spirit and His Holy Family. The problem is our world has become secularized. Secularization is the process of removing religious and moral influence from our society. The significance of God and the Holy Family in our world is looked down upon and is been reduced.

Lets reflect on our Gospel this Feast of the Holy Family, and “Mary did you know?”. Humans are wired by our creator to care for and protect children we are blessed with. Mary was no exception and when her and Joseph realized Jesus was missing and days had passed panic hit them. They backtracked and found Jesus in the temple listening to the elders and conversing with them. They were upset and asked why Jesus had not told them where he was going. His reply was that he thought they would know that he was going to His fathers house. And then we are told that Mary and Joseph “did not understand what he said to them.” Thus we are given the answer to some of the songs questions of her that she did not know. But then we are told that Mary “kept all these things in her heart.” and thus she reflected upon her son’s words and she came to understand that Jesus had assumed she knew his vocation, to learn and be involved with public ministry. Jesus also realized they did not know this and felt sorry for not telling them his plans to visit his Fathers house, for we are told that “Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man and was there after obedient to them.”

Jesus made a mistake for causing anxieties to his Mother and his step father and corrected his behavior and honored his human parents. This is the guide line for human families becoming members of the Holy Family. They care for and correct mistakes they make within their Holy Family relationships and its members.

Being human will carry with it sufferings. There will be mistakes that we will make as members of the Holy Family that will cause not only us but other members of God’s family to suffer. We are called to reflect upon our mistakes and make corrections to assure those we have caused to suffer that this will not happen again. We are called by God to place other members of the family of Jesus ahead of ourselves when we realize that others need our help and support as Jesus, Mary and Joseph have taught us, by reflecting on our actions and praying to the Father for wisdom and direction in helping our brothers and sisters overcome their sufferings and anxieties of life.

Like Mary, there are many questions in life we don’t know answers to. It is faith that allows us to trust that the Father knows our fears and anxieties and will answer us through His Holy Family when the time is right, for as told to us by God we are to look to His Holy Family and the Word for help and guidance and as far as fear, He tells us: “Be still and know that I AM!

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