The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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December 22, 2000 Issue
Bishop Morneau's Column
"Reflection on the Readings"

Bishop Robert Morneau
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 find yourself?

3. Do you have a sense of solidarity with the family of all humankind?

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.)



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