St. Michael's Parish - Cobourg

Holy Family                                                                                                    -Homily December 29, 2013

 

“It is not good for man to be alone.” (Gen 2:18) God made the difference between man and woman a complementarity. Man and woman need each other. In a deeper sense, every human person needs a community, because none of us can obtain for him or herself what is needed to attain human perfection and happiness. Differences among us make for the good of the community, because it is a difference of complementarity, and it is a difference established by God for our sake.

 

Now there is another way to see “difference” which is not helpful. Today that which is good for one person can be different from what is good for another. Values are different, but not with a difference of complementarity, but with a difference of opposition. Values regarding family, life, contraception, are opposed. This is a problem, because when people in the same community fight for their rights and these rights are opposed, there is conflict. There is no peace, there is persecution, the stronger is the winner and the weak must lose his or her rights.

 

Today many people think that difference is good because it is an exercise of your subjectivity. There is difference not because God establish it, but because “I say what is good for me”. “I establish what is true for me,” they say, “and if you don’t like it, that’s too bad.” At the root of this there is pride. Man does not want to accept that he is not God, that he needs God, that he is limited, that he cannot give himself happiness, that he cannot forgive himself, and he cannot give himself life.

 

Our salvation is in humility. Man needs to recognize that his happiness lies in the difference, but in the difference established by God. Man and woman need to recognize that their happiness lies in the other. Our perfection comes from our neighbour, from the other fellow men and women and from the Absolute Other, God.

 

A baby cannot feed itself. A child cannot teach itself. A young person cannot be happy without friends. A man or a woman cannot be happy without love. Even when you don’t marry a person, to love and to be loved is essential to happiness. We cannot live without love, and most of all, we cannot live without the love of God. “You made us for you, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you” (Saint Augustine).

 

I want to apply this “principle of difference” to a particular aspect of family life, and it is the relationship between parents and children of school age. There is a moment in the life of our children in which they realize that they are free, that they can think, and they are offered for the first time the possibility of self-determination: “Why must I do what my parents say?” “Why do I have to tell my parents this or that?” “I know what is good for me, I don’t need to tell them or to check with them”.

 

I will speak first to the children: If you don’t talk to your parents about certain things that happen at school or with friends, you may negatively affect your entire life. You may finish in a bad relationship, you may fall into some addiction, you may be involved without realizing it in acts of delinquency, you may finish up in jail. Usually, when you realize that there is something wrong it is too late to get out. Talk to your parents. You don’t lose anything. Your friends don’t know what you say to your parents.

 

Dear young people, you have discovered the power of your mind and your freedom. You need to realize that freedom is a gift that can be misused. Be responsible. To be free does not mean that you are omnipotent: we are all weak, and you are weaker than adults, because you have not fought much yet. To be intelligent does not mean that you know everything. We all are ignorant in some respect, and you have less experience than adults. If you are intelligent, ask those who know more than you. And don’t think that I say this to disparage you, I say this because you are our hope, and I know how much power there is in your hearts to change our world.

 

Now to the parents. These days, because of the demands of the economy and other reasons, sometimes both parents need to work. Both are tired at night. You know that this is the only time that your children can talk to you. Welcome them if they want to talk, and if they don’t, ask them, question them, don’t let them feel that you are not interested. I am so happy to see how parents enjoy a certain gift, especially mothers, to detect when there is something wrong. Talk to your children, this is the best way to ensure that they will be good women and good men.

 

May the Lord make us open to the other. Open to listen, open to obey, open to love, open to welcome life, open to welcome our neighbours and open to welcome the love of Jesus in our lives. May the Holy Virgin Mary, open to the action of the Holy Spirit, intercede for our families. Amen.    –Fr. Andrew