Feast of the Holy Family
December 31, 2017
Saint Mary Parish, Pylesville 4:00pm and 8:00am
Saint Matthew Parish, Baltimore 11:00am
Today I am thinking about families.
I’ve got some simple recommendations, maybe nothing new. Obviously, Christmas and today’s celebration in honor of the Holy Family got me going in this direction.
I have grouped my ideas around one word; let’s call it an acronym. The acronym is the word RELATE – R – E – L – A – T – E.
And the letters stand for action words: Respect, Express, Listen, Apologize, Thank, and Eat – we’ve got to get eating in there! So, RELATE!
R = Respect
As I said, the R stands for Respect.
The idea is to accept one another as we are. This means that we appreciate mom for the good chocolate chip cookies that she baked or affirm a middle schooler for his computer skills.
Respect means that we are sensitive to parents who feel stressed with their jobs or teens who feel the need to push back on some stuff. And it means that we do our share of responsibilities around the house, like cleaning the bathroom or the kitchen.
E = Express
So, Respect, and then the first E in the word Relate stands for Express.
Here the word doesn’t mean an express line at the supermarket, but rather, expressing ourselves to other family members. So, we express our ideas or feelings about things – maybe about our country’s immigration policies, about something that happened at school, whatever it is.
We do this because it lets others in the family know who we are and it creates the opportunity for closer relationships. And we do it because we may be enriched by hearing what others have to say about what we have said.
L = Listen
And that flows right into the next letter: L which stands for Listen.
Listen to one another. Really try to take in not just the words, but the passion or excitement or disappointment that is underneath the words.
It could be your father, your daughter, your brother or your grandmother. Just give your attention to them when they are speaking and, by all means, don’t interrupt them.
A = Apologize
So, Listen, and then the A in the word Relate stands for Apologize.
This is not rocket science but it may not be not easy. When children have back-talked their parents, or when a parent makes a sarcastic remark about somebody forgetting to get milk at the store, we need to apologize.
The funny thing here is that when I say I’m sorry, it doesn’t diminish me or make me less as a person. It actually makes me a bigger and nobler person.
T = Thank
So, Apologize, and then the T stands for Thank.
Here I am thinking of the importance of thanking God. The idea is to thank God together as a family, whether there are two or five of us or whatever.
Even though there may be different religious traditions in the same household, we can still offer a simple prayer or word of thanks for someone or something. Often it is good to do this right before having dinner and that takes me to the last letter of our word.
E = Eat
This second E stands for Eat.
There are a number of studies that demonstrate the value of families eating dinner together. In fact, the incidence of certain issues – like teens getting into drinking and drugs – is significantly less in families that eat dinner together three or more times a week.
Now this means no texting or TV. Instead, it means that we are using the meal as a way to be together and value one another, yes, a way to Relate to one another.
So, RELATE: Respect, Express, Listen, Apologize, Thank, and Eat.
They are my recommendations. Now, in case you find anything worthwhile here, you can find a link to this and my other Sunday homilies on my Wednesday Inbox Inspirations.
If you’re not receiving that in your email every Wednesday morning, the email address for getting it is under my name on the front of the bulletin – email@example.com. And, by the way, all of this is free!