Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - Family
"Happy are they who dwell in Your house, O Lord" focuses our thoughts on what the Judaic-Christian tradition considers to be an essential of happy family life. It is no coincidence that as people leave God out of their lives, social structures become weakened. A major concern today is the constant erosion of family values.

Samuel 1:20-22; 24-28:  Highlights how different parental authority was then compared with now. Then, the parent could decide the child's future; today, parents can only be expected to prepare children to make sound decisions for themselves.

1 John 3: 1-2; 21-14: Since we are adopted children of God, John reminds us of the logical consequences of our adoption - to be men and women of Faith; to be guided by the Commandments, and; to respect others even though they may be different from us.

Luke 2:41-52: Here we read of the consternation felt by Joseph and Mary as they realised that Jesus had gone missing; and, then, their puzzlement as Jesus informed them that He had a special mission to carry out. This incident marks the final scene in St. Luke's account of Christ's childhood.

Point 1: Depending on who is talking, we can believe that everything in the garden is rosy; or that our social structure is on the point of collapse! As always, the truth lies somewhere in between these two extremes. There is no doubt that for many, life is more agreeable than it used to be. But there are also many who are stressed out, angry and pessimistic. In recent years, hardly an institution or convention of Australian life has not been challenged or subjected to radical change. The present era has seen relentless change on a broad front. One of the areas most affected has been the family. A major contributing factor in this regard has been the redefined roles of men and women in our society; also, as modern industrial policy switches to a global economy, many no longer feel as though they are part of a community or that they are valued members in a particular workforce and, consequently, no longer have security of employment. But, I believe, even more damaging has been the impact of changes in our educational system. Here, the thinking appears to have been that a value based programme is undesirable in a multi cultural society; it is better to be "nothing" rather than "something". The real result of this experiment is to have produced a culture that gives our children nothing greater than themselves to believe in other than acquiring wealth and status. Consequently many are left with a sense of failure.

Point 2: In anyone's approach to life, there have always been two options - to go it alone, or to go at it with God. The religious contribution to our understanding of life has been to come at life with God. The Christian contribution is to come at life with God-become-man in the person of Christ. Emmanuel - God with us! The essence of the Feast of Christmas

Conclusion: The attempt has not been without its failures or its contradictions as we grope our way to a more complete understanding of what Christian commitment entails. The attempt has never been easy, and to judge its success, one must not look so much at those who have steadfastly refused to give it a go; or even at those who have made a half-hearted or emotional response. Rather do we draw assurance from those countless millions whose lives have been formed and motivated through their contact with Christ. This formation, historically and of necessity, must commence in the family cell and should be complemented in the broader educational system. Such a pattern of formation is given by St. Luke as he concludes his account of the childhood of Jesus -

Scriptural reference: "he then went down with them and came to Nazareth and lived under their authority. His mother stored up all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom, in stature, and in favour with God and man." (Luke 2:51-52)