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Feast of the Holy Family 2017, Bishop Crean Homily

Feast of the Holy Family

Sunday 31st December, 2017

Sacred Heart Church, Ballymore

My friends,

A young poet Deirdre Ryan has recently published a short poem….

Listening to the news

We live in the common travel area of

Our marriage

We traverse the invisible borders

Roam each others’ lands freely

Occasionally treaties must be entered to

prevent hard boundaries being reinstated.

Together we wonder when we will be

moving to the fiscal space.

Clearly her images are inspired by contemporary phrases connected with politics and economics. Her point is well made when she speaks of the common travel area of our marriage, invisible borders, treaties to prevent hard borders.

To-day we celebrate the experience of Jesus’ family. A young couple living through difficult and anxious times.  Their encounter with Simeon and Anna leaves them wondering about their child and what the future holds for them.  What were they to make of Simeon’s words?

“Now, Master you can let your servant

go in peace, just as you promised

Because my eyes have seen the salvation

which you have prepared for all the

nations to see…..

“You see this child: he is destined for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel destined to be a sign that is rejected – a sword will pierce your own soul too – so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare”.

Our families can be at once the most blessed and wonderful experience. While for others it has meant little less than a curse or horror.  Yet the family of Nazareth has been the instrument of God to bring salvation and redemption to the world.

So we as church and society, at our peril if we ignore the experience of family both good and bad. No wonder we are drawn to its drama in every sitcom we watch.

For us in the Catholic Church in Ireland 2018 marks a novel experience of hosting the World Meeting of Families next August in Dublin. We are hoping Pope Francis will honour us with a visit.  While the visit of the Pope will be important, equally important will be our time of preparation in schools, parishes and dioceses across the country.  This preparation will seek to focus on family in a deeper reflection on the challenges that families face to-day – Work/life balance, technology, social media, housing, spirituality and so much else.  All the time, conscious that our families are meant to be the most graced situation we can find ourselves in life.  The place where we are accepted / loved unconditionally, the place where we accept one another, flaws and all.

2018 is our opportunity to focus on family – to look at it realistically. To acknowledge both its blessings and challenges.  With the basic question Are/Is our family a place of nurture where we are helped and supported to flourish according to our gifts and despite our flaws and shortcomings.

So our prayer is that 2018 will be a year of grace for our family and for family life in Ireland.







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