What Makes A Holy Family – Fr. Viet Nguyen

Fr. Viet Nguyen’s Homily December 26, 2021

“You know, I’ve only been a priest for about three, three and a half years, and often times people might ask me, why did I choose to become a parish priest? Why didn’t I think about becoming a Jesuit or a Franciscan or Benedictine or a religious order priest? And the thing that always came up for me is that the parish priests in some ways lives the life of the people, lives the life with the family. You see the great joys of baptism, weddings, celebrations, confirmations, but also you’re invited into the most intimate times, such as anointing of a sick relative in the hospital, at funerals and other tragedies, but one of the reasons I love to be a parish priest is because I’m invited into the families of everyone and really get to serve the family. And today, today we celebrate the Holy Family. In the first and second reading shows us to have honor for our parents and  when our father gets older to continue to take care of them. The second reading tells us certain ways that we care for them to be gentle with each other, forgive each other, but all those ways of caring for each other seems like whether you are Catholic, Christian or or any other religion you would atone to. So what makes a Holy Family? What makes a Holy Family? What makes a Holy Family? I’m going to show you through the example of the Holy Family, Joseph, Mary and Jesus, and they show us the way to what makes a Holy Family. You know, this year is the year St. Joseph and we’re supposed to imitate St. Joseph, but it’s interesting because in the scriptures, there’s stories of St. Joseph, but he doesn’t say a single word in scripture, but it’s not what he says that’s important, it’s about what he does. Throughout St. Joseph, you always have the angel come to him in a dream and tell him. And so think of the hardships he had in that. Think if you were St. Joseph, what you would go through, what anxiety you would go through, the embarrassment of having a betrothed wife who’s already pregnant? What do you think the relatives or our friends and neighbors would think in that? But he held that in his heart or think about he was too poor to even provide a good place for Mary to give birth in that they have to give birth in a stall of an animal. Think of the agony he might have felt as a man there and then when she gives birth, when Mary gives birth later, he’s told in the dream to now take a trip to Egypt because the King, Herod, is looking to kill all the children but really looking for his child. He didn’t understand. How could he? Why would he think this great thing would be after my child? And really looking at the situation, it wasn’t like traveling like today, you know, it wasn’t business class or first class. It wasn’t like going on a cruise, but actually, it was very dangerous to travel in those days, let alone now traveling with an infant. I received my siblings with a child. It’s already hard to travel in today’s age with an infant, let alone back then. In some ways, many people might have thought that he was actually putting his family in danger was being reckless. But what does he do? He gets up and he goes, that’s really what it says in the scriptures that after he wakes up, he gets up and he goes, he follows the will of God without understanding fully but trusting, trusting in God’s providential care for him and his family, trusting in his life and his family in the great scope of salvation history he trusted. That’s what St. Joseph shows us.

Now you look at today’s gospel, Mary. Mary loses her son for three days and they frantically try to look for him. Have you ever lost something, or have you ever lost your own child just for even like a minute? The panic that sinks in, I know when I lose my keys, I get anxious, let alone losing a person. But here she is, and then she tells them, ‘Son, why have you done this to us? Don’t you know what great anguish, what anguish it did to us? What anxiety it did?’ And then to hear your son say, ‘Well, why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know I had to be at my father’s house?’ The key thing at the end of this Gospel is that then she pondered this. She pondered this, and in her heart. She continued to ponder this in her heart. Mary again shows us obedience to God. Even when her son was being crucified during The Passion of Christ, she was standing right there for those three days, just seeing the agony there in her heart. She pondered this, continuing to ponder this in her heart. So there was anguish there, but she still did the will of God. She trusted in God’s providential care for her family and for herself, and then Jesus, Jesus him even here as a child who leaves his family at 12 years old. It’s not that he was in some ways reckless. He loved his parents. He didn’t want them to be anxious about him. But he did leave because the will of the father, he had to be in his father’s house, showing them that there was something different, something more important than family. It was doing the father’s will and throughout his life he did that. He stepped away and prayed. Speaking with the father up until his even death, when he felt his father was absent from him, he trusted and did the will of the Heavenly Father. The key thing to holiness is doing the will of God, doing the will of God and each, each of the members of the Holy Family Joseph, Mary and Jesus each did the will of God, but not without pain. It wasn’t easy. Doing the will of God isn’t easy, but it will bring you peace. Think of all the anguish you have in your own lives. Parents trying to parent their children, trying to teach them all the important things of life. Well, you need God’s grace in that. Without God’s grace, you couldn’t be able to do it. Or even I see even children adult children taking care of their parents. And come the hardships there. We need God’s grace in that to give us the strength, the courage to do the will of the father, to love others, especially our own families, even when it’s difficult. In some ways, it’s parallel to the image of a mother giving birth. There is the pains of giving birth, but afterwards there’s the great joy knowing that the pain wasn’t for not, that it was for something. And what we’re doing, when we’re doing the will of the father is that we’re trusting in God’s providence and the bigger picture that He cares for each one of us, but the important thing is knowing that God is always with us in doing his will. And that’s what we celebrated yesterday in this Christmas season that God is truly with us.

So may the Holy Family today, bless each and every one of your families. May they give you courage and strength to follow the father’s will even when it seems difficult and hard knowing, knowing that one day we’ll realize all of it was worth it. Amen.”