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Father Muench Says...

A perfect time to celebrate our families


Jan. 3, 2018

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

I sincerely hope that your Christmas was a good celebration with your family with peace and joy and fun. I found so much happiness as I celebrated Mass on Christmas Day.  Each year when I write my Christmas cards, I include a promise to family and friends that I will remember them in the Mass I celebrate on Christmas.  So, my list of intentions for that Mass is rather long.

I depend on God to keep track of my list in case, I forget someone I should not forget.  For us, priests, the Christmas Day Mass is very special each year as we join with the people of the parish in celebrating the birth of the Savior.

Our Catholic Church’s liturgical celebrations during this Christmas season are a beautiful time for drawing each of us closer to God and with family and friends.  It is a special time for family as generations of loved ones are drawn together at Christmas.  All the good Christmas stories – like in the movies and such – are always family centered.  The scriptural stories for Christmas focus on family also – Jesus’ family and our families, too.

Each of the Christmas Gospel stories are about us – you and I – and we should recognize that we have a part in the Christmas message. 

On Christmas Day, we join the shepherds as they receive the message of the Angels.  We are invited by them to make room in our hearts for Jesus as we celebrate his birth.

Christmas is a family day with parents remembering and celebrating the births of their children.  Each of us also can celebrate with our family this life that is ours.  We are a blessed people, a loved people. We belong to this human family and Jesus is one of us.  Jesus came among us to bless us in love, to live and to die for us.

Recognizing all of this, our Church dedicates the Sunday after Christmas to family as we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.  It is a time to celebrate our own family, a Sunday to pray in gratitude for God’s gift of family for each of us.

As we celebrate our own family, our Church encourages us to remember and pray for the family that is our Catholic Church throughout the world as well as the family that is our parish. This is a great time to remind ourselves that we are united into a wonderful family: our Catholic Church and our parish. This is a time to pray for all those we pray with at Mass and remember that this family of the Catholic Church in the world is our family.

I want to add to this a special intention for us all as we pray for our Catholic Church.  In too many places in the world Christians are suffering the pain of persecution and other such problems.  I was impressed and at times shocked by the description of life in Syria which Bishop Chbeir shared during his recent visit to our diocese. 

As we begin to form this union with his diocese in Syria, we become family.  Holy Family Sunday becomes a time to pray for our Church family – not just here but also throughout the world – praying for help and peace for them all.

The Christmas season continues with the celebration of the Epiphany on the next Sunday.  Each of us walk with the Magi, the wise men, as they travel to find this new born king.

It is a fascinating story. These Gentiles leave their own country and travel a long distance – becoming immigrants – in an effort to find a new king. 

We know that they were searching for Jesus.  Are we ready to take such a determined search to be open to allow Jesus to be part of our lives? Are we unafraid to go forth so that our Savior will be part of all that we do? We know Jesus – yet, have we truly found him? Each day we should be ready to take that journey with readiness to open our hearts for this Jesus who came into our world – and was born on Christmas to be one of us.      

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