December 27, 2015 - Holy Family, Year C
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church
What customs and traditions do you celebrate with your family during the holiday season? Some families open presents on Christmas eve and others open them on Christmas morning.
Our customs and traditions are important because they give us a sense of identity, a sense of belonging. They strengthen our family bonds. They offer us comfort and security.
The Jewish people of Jesus’ time had many more customs and traditions than we do today. One of them is described in the gospel today.
Mary and Joseph and the child Jesus go up to Jerusalem each year for Passover. Luke tells us that it is a festival custom. It was an important tradition for them.
The Holy Family was traveling with a large group, maybe the whole neighborhood or their extended family at least. That’s why it was so easy for Jesus to get left behind. This was the twelfth time Jesus went us to Jerusalem for Passover.
Their keeping of this religious custom is an invitation for us to look at our families and ask, “What customs and traditions do I keep with my family? Why are these so important to us? Do they help us become better persons?”
We need customs and traditions in our lives. They give our lives meaning. And the most important traditions we keep are the ones that celebrate our religious heritage.
These help us grow in our identity as sons and daughters of God. They help us grow spiritually. They unite us more closely with the Holy Family.
One tradition that we should all have is the tradition of coming to church each week for Sunday Mass.
This is where the Lord has the opportunity to speak his Word to us. This is where we experience once again Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice to save us. This is where we receive spiritual food to nourish our souls.
Saint Paul gives us instructions regarding our attitude toward this important religious custom. Paul tells us to listen to God’s word and let it sink into our souls. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.”
Saint Paul also tells us to sing joyfully with gratitude in our hearts. “Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts.”
Do we sing joyfully? Do we willingly open the hymnal and try to sing along when a song is announced? Posture is important. Notice your posture today at mass. What does it say about you? Our posture says so much about what is going on in our hearts.
When we sing or pray aloud at mass, many of you sit or stand with your arms crossed and your faces set in a stoic stare? All this, our postures and our attitudes say so much about where our hearts are.
Paul says this singing, this joy, this gratitude will change your lives. So, our religious traditions help change us. They help us grow spiritually. They challenge us to act with greater compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and mercy.
Our church has rich customs and traditions, especially during this Christmas season. Today we celebrate the Holy Family. They are a model for us.
We see them faithful to their festival custom, going up to Jerusalem each year to celebrate Passover.
We are invited to look at our own families to see which religious customs and traditions are important to us. What customs and traditions will you celebrate with your family this Christmas season?