Bishop Morneau's Column|
"Reflection on the Readings"
|Bishop Robert Morneau
Family: our most important community
Relationships need much grace and a lot of human effort to stay together
December 31, Feast of the Holy Family
(Reading I: 1 Samuel 1:20-22,24-28 or Sirach 3:2-6,12-14; Reading II: 1 John 3:1-2,21-24 or Colossians 3:12-21; Gospel: Luke 2:41-52)
By Bishop Robert Morneau
Questions for reflection:
1. What are you grateful for regarding your family?
2. How do you participate in the extended family in which you
3. Do you have a sense of solidarity with the family of all
Many confirmation letters that Bishop Banks and I receive refer
to the family. Here are a few examples from my candidates: "My
parents are the greatest and they have unconditional love and
support for me." "My mother is my best friend; we can talk with
each other about anything and everything."
On this feast of the Holy Family we have the opportunity to once
again reflect on the importance of this basic unit of society.
Jesus had great parents. Mary and Joseph cared for him as he grew
in wisdom, stature and grace. This nurturing task was demanding
and often taxing. Troubles do arise, like getting lost and
causing worry. There are misunderstandings and, at times,
miscomprehensions. Mary struggled to understand what her son was
about. Joseph worried when Jesus was lost to them for three days.
The growth process is seldom smooth.
Such is the nature of all relationships. At times we communicate
well and keep each other informed. At other times, we lack
sufficient sensitivity and feelings get hurt, anger and anxiety
set in, and, in extreme situations, the relationship can
disintegrate. Keeping relationships healthy is hard work and is
accomplished only through great sacrifice and even compromise. We
need much grace and a lot of human effort to stay together.
Confirmation letter: "My parents and my teachers constantly ask
me what I want to be; telling them that I want to be a princess
is no longer an acceptable answer." It is in the family that we
work out the initial phases of our vocation, our calling by God.
Parents can help us discern our gifts and see the needs around us
that need addressing. Parents know us close up and often
challenge us to discipline ourselves so that our talents are not
left dormant or go wasted.
Mary and Joseph brought their son to the religious feasts. They,
like Jesus, were about "the Father's business." By way of osmosis
our Lord assimilated religious values and attitudes, indeed,
religious practices. This is why it is so terribly important that
parents model for their children their religious faith. Nuts do
not fall far from the tree nor do children differ all that much
from their parents in the early behavior.
Confirmation letter: "I gave my grandmother a sweat shirt last
Christmas. On the front of it were stitched, in bold letters,
TGIF. This stitching does not refer to "Thank God it's Friday."
Rather, "This Grandmother is fantastic!"
Today we know that the extended family - grandparents, uncles and
aunts, cousins - are all part of the mix and can have a major
influence on our lives. In the day of Jesus the people traveled
in caravans. Mary and Joseph went looking for Jesus among their
relations and acquaintances. As the saying goes, "It take a whole
village to raise a child." Parents must not be left alone in
their overwhelming responsibilities.
Confirmation letter: "I thank God every day for my family!"
Nothing more need be said.
(Bp. Morneau is the auxiliary bishop of the Green Bay Diocese.)