Fr. Jeff Scheeler, OFM

A Reflection on the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph and Our Family of Parishes

Earlier in Advent, there was a reading from the prophet Isaiah that grabbed me. Isaiah (54:2-3) encouraged his people to “Enlarge the space for your tent; spread out your tent cloths unsparingly; lengthen your ropes and make firm your pegs. For you shall spread abroad to the right and left; your descendants shall dispossess the nations and shall people the deserted cities.”  Being a nomad who lived in tents, Isaiah was telling his people, using images they would understand, that they needed to make some room in their homes and lives for the other who would soon be returning home. They would be doing this for their descendants, so they were thinking about the future!  It made me think of our Family of Parishes, and how we need to thank about the future and how each of our parishes need to “make room in our inn” for one another.

As we widen our tents, and make room for one another, the second reading for the feast of the Holy Family, from St. Paul’s letter the Colossians, gives a lot of very practical advice about being in relationship, being and growing into a family.  As a Family of Parishes, being “enlarged,” this passage might encourage us.

As God’s beloved, we are invited to “put on” certain virtues: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and forgiveness. And then “over all these,” we put on love, like a winter sweater or swaddling clothes, which bonds us together even further.  Paul encourages us to “let peace control our hearts,” always being thankful since the word of Christ now dwells in our hearts.  Who or what controls our hearts, especially as we enlarge our tents?

Having just celebrated the great feast of Emmanuel, God with us, we have a sense of the closeness of our God.  We’ve celebrated the great news that the word has been made flesh and dwells among us, dwells in us.  And just like the birth of any child changes a family, so this birth bonds us and changes us as well.  Our parishes are now linked together in a new way; we are invited to meet new people, enter into new relationships, and to be changed by the new members of our family. We all know that being family is a great gift, but we also know that it is not always easy; there are ups and down and bumps in the road.  Taking to heart the attitude suggested by St. Paul’s words will no doubt help us along the way.

I am grateful to be part of your community!  May God bless our Family of Parishes as we move together into 2022.

Fr. Jeff Scheeler, OFM