Homily: Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph

Happy Third Day of Christmas!

As you may know by now, today, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Before I preach about that, however. Can anyone tell me what is another feast that the Church celebrates today? The Feast of John the evangelist, Jesus’ beloved disciple. John wrote one of the four gospels and the Book of Revelations. However, the unique reason for remembering him today is that John represents each of us as adopted children of the Holy Family. Let’s take a quick journey to understand why. First, fix your gaze at the Jesus crucified in front of you. If you feel comfortable, close your eyes. Imagine that you are John standing with Mary at the foot of the cross as I read the following scripture verse:

“Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary, the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.”[1]

Let those words resonate in your heart for a moment.

What a blessing that John remained faithful to Jesus until the bitter end. In doing so, all humanity became members of the Holy Family. If you forget anything that I say to you today, I pray that you remember Jesus’ words to John every time you gaze at Him on the cross.

Now, let me talk about the Holy Family. When you think about the Holy Family: What word comes to your mind? I will give you a brief moment to reflect on that. Keep that word in your heart. After Mass, I encourage you to contemplate in private or with a group or as a family about why that particular word came into your heart. For me, the word that comes to mind is the virtue of perseverance.  The reason is that the Holy Family, by their lives, are examples of the miracles that can take place when our hearts are filled with the fruit of perseverance. Through perseverance and trust in God, we, like the Holy Family, can overcome, give meaning, and strive despite adverse events in our lives.

Jesus’ humility gave us the miracle of eternal salvation. The the Son of God did not have to submit himself to judgment, humiliation, and torture. He, however, chose to humble himself for the sake of our salvation.  Every time I serve on Mass, I am reminded of that. During the Eucharistic Prayer, you will witness me pouring wine and water on the priest’s chalice. At that time, I will say the following words on your behalf:

“By the mystery of this wine and water, may we come to share in the divinity of Jesus, who humble himself to share our humanity.”

At 13 years of age, Mary’s “yes” to God gave us the miracle of the Incarnation of Jesus. Mary’s perseverance gave her the strength to witness the painful prophecy related by Simeon:

“Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted – and you yourself a sword will pierce – so that the thoughts of many be revealed.”

All mothers here can probably feel in their hearts how difficult it must have been for Mary to hear those words. Yet, she persevered all the way to the foot of the cross.

Joseph’s obedience exemplifies the miracle of patience. Most men in Joseph’s time and even now would have run away from Mary or walked out of his father’s responsibilities. Instead, he embraced them. Like Mary and Jesus, Joseph persevered in his vocation to do God’s will.

The Holy Family is the universal family. Jesus is the savior of humanity. Mary is not only the Mother of God; she is also our mother.  Joseph is more than Jesus’ adopted father. He is the Patron of the Universal Church.

In the Holy Family, we find love, strength, and motivation to persevere in life. The Church recognizes that to be the case. For example, in his new Apostolic Letter “Patris Corde” (“With a Father’s Heart), Pope Francis proclaimed Dec 8, 2020, through  Dec 8, 2021, as the year of Joseph. In his letter, Pope Francis stresses ‘the creative courage’ of St. Joseph, which ’emerges especially in the way we deal with difficulties.” “The carpenter of Nazareth,” explains the Pope, was able to turn a problem into a possibility by trusting in divine providence.” He had to deal with “the concrete problems” his Family faced, problems faced by other families in the world.” [2]

The efforts to celebrate the Holy Family as a sacramental symbol of perseverance are happening in our diocese as well. Bishop Vasquez has declared today as the beginning of the Year of the Domestic Church in our diocese. “This day will begin the year-long observance of the home as the first school of Christian life.” Recognizing the impact that 2020 has had in our society, Bishop Vasquez acknowledges that many families and individuals  are experiencing challenges and difficulties securing “material or spiritual resources.”[3] However, his hope and prayer are that each of us can find in the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, a model of perseverance that we can emulate through worship, action, and community. A simple way to start the year of the “Domestic Church” is by imitating  John the evangelist and take Mary into to our hearts.  

Let us pray:

O God, creator of all, you ordered the earth to bring forth life and crowned its goodness by creating the human Family. In history’s moment, when all was ready, you sent your Son to dwell in time, “practicing the virtues of family life and in the bonds of charity.” Teach us the sanctity of human love; show us the value of the Domestic Church; and help us live in peace with all people, which we may share in your life forever. With the intercession of St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, we ask this through Christ the Lord. Amen. – Prayer for the Diocese of Austin Year of the Domestic Church

St. Michael the Archangel, First Champion of the Kingship of Christ, pray for us.

[1] https://bible.usccb.org/bible/john/19

[2] https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2020-12/pope-francis-proclaims-year-of-st-joseph.html

[3] https://austindiocese.org/domestic-church

The Gift of Fortitude

“Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us…” (Hebrews 12:1)

As we enter the fourth day of the Novena of the Holy Spirit, we ask for the gift of Fortitude: “the moral virtue that ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1808)

We all experience difficult situations in our lives. The good news, however, is that those who are blessed with the gift of Fortitude are able to cope with life’s sufferings, temptations, and fears in divine ways. Filled with the gift of Fortitude, they place their trust in God: “Because always, even in the darkest moments, in moments of sin, in moments of weakness, in moments of failure, I have seen Jesus, and I trusted Him … He has not left me alone” (Pope Francis, Sept 22, 2013)

Through the gift of Fortitude, our suffering unites us with the pain experienced by Jesus, Mary, all the Saints, and countless brothers and sisters. It is through the gift of Fortitude that on a certain day we will be joyful to say: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7)

Have a blessed day!!!

The Thankful Gerasene Demoniac

“‘Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you.’ Then the man went off and began to proclaim in the Decapolis what Jesus had done for him; and all were amazed.”‘ – Mark 5:19-20

After God answered our prayers, are we thankful by announcing them to others or do we keep them to ourselves and go about our normal lives?

The Healing of the Gerasene Demoniac is a great witness to how we ought to act when we receive God’s mercy.

As Pope Francis reminded us last week, “It is easy to ask God for things; we all do it. When will we also learn to give him thanks and to adore him?”

Let’s pray that we learn to use God’s miracles to evangelize others.


© hectorortiz 2014. All rights reserved.

Pope Francis

Yesterday, Pope Francis 20130313_pope_blog_main_horizontalwas voted the next successor to St. Peter. This marks a new chapter in the Catholic Church; one for which I am very excited.

Much discussion since yesterday has centered on his age. Pope Francis is certainly no spring chicken. Age, however, doesn’t make a person; it is the person’s character, resolve, and the Grace of God bestowed upon the person that counts.

Throughout the history of the bible, one can encounter countless men and women advanced in age who have made enormous contributions to our faith. Abraham was 100 years old, and Sarah 90, when Isaac was born (Genesis 21:5). In today’s scriptures, we read about Moses. He was 80 years old when he led God’s people from Egypt (Exodus 7:7) and received the 10 Commandments. Zechariah and Elizabeth were both advanced in age (Luke 1:7) when the Angel Gabriel announced that they would be having a child, John the Baptist.

God has always worked in mysterious ways. I believe that the choosing of Pope Francis is God’s work. Moreover, I believe that like Abraham and Moses, Pope Francis has prepared all his life to serve God in this role. How long would it be? It doesn’t matter to me. I have faith that however long it is, it will be what God intended it to be.

When God presents us with an opportunity, it is not how old or young we are that counts; it is what we do with it. Jesus’ ministry was only 3 years. Think about how our lives were transformed by it.

Let’s pray that Pope Francis brings about God’s will.