One of the shortest pontificates in history was that of Pope John Paul I, the Pope of September, 1978. He was a man short of stature with a very short time in office, but he stood tall when it came to sharing his warmth and joy that endeared him to Catholics everywhere. Forty years ago Pope John Paul addressed a group of bishops visiting from the United States. He spoke about a topic especially dear to him. It could have been a world crisis, or social justice or human suffering. But the Pope spoke to the visitors about the family. Quoting the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, the Pope called the family the domestic church, a community of love that shares in the covenant of love between Christ and his Church. The members of our human family are members of God’s family too, for as one of the Prefaces for Marriage declares. "You have designed the chaste love of husband and wife for the increase of both the human family and of your own family born in baptism," and then the Pope rejoices to exclaim: "What a marvelous thing it is when families realize the power they have for the sanctification of the world, the mutual sanctification of husband and wife and the reciprocal influence between parents and children." Then he observed "by the loving witness of their lives, families can bring Christ’s gospel to others. A vivid realization of the sharing of the laity and especially the family in the salvific mission of the Church is one of the greatest legacies of the Second Vatican Council. We can never thank God enough for this gift. It is up to us to keep this realization strong, by support and defending the family, each and every family." The Church has decided, in the euphoria and joy ot the Christmas experience, to focus this day on the Holy Family of Mary, Joseph and Jesus and has dedicated this last Sunday of the year as Holy Family Sunday. We pray that through the example of the home in Nazareth, God will bless all our families and bring them good health and happiness in the coming year.
Fr John R. Mulvehill