The Office of Family, Youth, and Young Adult Ministries is sharing the Family Perspective reflections for 2021 (beginning with the First Sunday of Advent 2020). These offer a weekly reflection on the Gospel through the eyes of families and are a great resource for helping to build strong Catholic families.
A Family Perspective by Bud Ozar
November 29, 2020: First Sunday of Advent: Today’s gospel tells us to “Be watchful.” This comes natural to families. Parents are watchful of their children’s health, grades and friends. Children are watchful of parental moods. Today’s gospel encourages us to use this ability to see God acting in the innocence, tenderness, love and forgiveness of your family. “Be watchful,” the Lord is already with you.
December 6, 2020: Second Sunday of Advent: Why is it so hard to forgive, yet so easy to get even? Listen to John the Baptist in today’s gospel and repent of the anger and ugly feelings which block your ability to forgive. This Christmas give a gift which makes a difference. Give forgiveness.
December 13, 2020: Third Sunday of Advent: Today’s gospel reports “there is one among you whom you do not recognize.” It is hard to believe Christ is present in a family with crazy schedules, suppers that start too late and end too early, cars that don’t start, misunderstandings, frustrations, piles of laundry, unmatched socks and stretched food budgets. The list is endless. The words spoken at mass, “The Lord is with you,” are not a hope, they are a fact.
December 20, 2020: Fourth Sunday of Advent: QUESTION: What do you call a family which began with an unmarried pregnant teen and had a twelve-year-old son who ran away from home and was eventually executed as a criminal? ANSWER: HOLY! Two lessons in today’s gospel: (1) No matter what is happening in your family, “The Lord is with you.” (2) “Do not be afraid” for “nothing is impossible with God“.
December 25, 2020: The Nativity of the Lord: This Christmas remember your task as a parent is the same as Mary’s: We must not let our doubts, fears and unfulfilled expectations get in the way of our loving ACCEPTANCE of our children.
December 27, 2020: Holy Family: The gospel today shows Mary and Joseph weren’t “perfect” parents. If you have ever been “amazed” and “astonished” at what came out of your child’s mouth, then you are in good company. If there were times you “didn’t understand” your children or felt “anxious” about their behavior so did Mary and Joseph. Parenting is tough but it is also the stuff of holiness.
January 1, 2021: Mary, the Holy Mother of God: The gospel tells us “Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.” We would do well to imitate Mary in our New Year’s resolution. Instead of criticizing let’s “keep it in our hearts.” Criticism isn’t productive or well received anyway!
January 3, 2021: Epiphany: The Magi in today’s gospel were led to Jesus by a star. Who are the stars your children follow? Don’t let it be the tabloid stars. Resolve in this New Year to be the guiding star in the life of your children.
January 10, 2021: Baptism of Our Lord: In today’s gospel Jesus was publicly AFFIRMED by his Father: “You are my beloved son, with you I am very pleased.” As parents we can become so focused on misbehaviors, we can overlook the good behaviors. Jesus needed AFFIRMATION and so do our children.
January 17, 2021: Second Sunday in Ordinary Time: Jesus’ question in today’s gospel is still valid today: “What are you looking for?” What do you want from your spouse, children or parents? Families are populated with imperfect people. To expect perfection is unreal. To expect and accept imperfection is wisdom.
January 24, 2021: Third Sunday in Ordinary Time: It must have been difficult for Zebedee to watch his sons walk away and follow Jesus. It was the end of “Zebedee and Sons Fishing, Inc.” Our children were never ours. They are only on loan to us. We raise them to let them go.
January 31, 2021: Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Today’s gospel reminds us “unclean spirits” still haunt our families. These “spirits” thrive inside our grudges, punishing silence, impatience and abruptness. Today Jesus offers you the “authority” to cast out these spirits from your life and your family.
February 7, 2021: Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time: In today’s gospel Jesus went to the “house of Andrew and Simon” to relax but discovered that “Simon’s mother-in-law was very ill“. Like Jesus we come home to relax but are confronted with problems. Take a tip from Andrew and Simon who “told Jesus about it at once.”
February 14, 2021: Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Family life is about decisions. The leper in today’s gospel knew this when he said to Jesus. “If you will, you can make me clean.” Jesus knew this when he said, “I do will it.” Love is not an emotion. It is a decision to be with and for another person in “good times and bad,” even when we don’t feel like it.
February 21, 2021: First Sunday of Lent: Jesus went into the desert to put his life in perspective. This lent, take a fresh look at a difficult relationship in your life. Concentrate on the positive things that person does, not just the negatives. Try to understand why their behaviors “bug” you. Can you honestly share your feelings with them without attacking them? Make Lent a time to MEND and FORGIVE!
February 28, 2021: Second Sunday of Lent: The apostles thought they knew Jesus, but when he changed in front of them at the Transfiguration, they were “afraid.” In families we cannot freeze relationships because change and growth are inevitable. Children grow up, parents grow old and spouses change. Transfigurations are all around us and within us. Relationships can only grow when we embrace the new and let go of the old.
March 7, 2021: Third Sunday of Lent: Today’s gospel says Jesus chased the merchants out of the temple, it doesn’t say He was angry. Jesus teaches us to act from conviction and not from anger. He didn’t condemn the merchants, only their business practice. Attack the behavior and not the person.
March 14, 2021: Fourth Sunday of Lent: Today’s gospel speaks of light and darkness. Often a parent is deliberately “left in the dark.” Darkness can be comforting for it makes no demands on us. Light can be disturbing for it forces us to take action. Parents walk a delicate balance of when to “sit in the dark” and when to “turn on the lights.”
March 21, 2021: Fifth Sunday of Lent: Relationships come with a price tag. We must be willing to entrust ourselves to another, to let go of our autonomy and die to our independence. It is in dying to our independence that we find interdependence with others.
March 28, 2021: Passion (Palm) Sunday: The Passion of Jesus makes it clear, no one escapes suffering. Suffering is inevitable but no one should suffer alone. That is one of the primary roles of families, to stand with and support each other in suffering.
April 4, 2021: Easter Sunday: That first Easter morning was confusing. Jesus was missing and Mary Magdalene, Peter and John “did not know” what to do. In family life there are confusing moments when “we don’t know” what to do. Like the apostles we are Easter people when we believe and trust in each other even when all seems lost.
April 11, 2021: Second Sunday of Easter/Divine Mercy: In today’s gospel Jesus teaches, “Blessed are those who have not seen and believe.” Accepting someone as they are, without demanding they prove themselves or meet our expectations, creates a rich relationship. Without acceptance a home is only a house and a family is just a group of house mates.
April 18, 2021: Third Sunday of Easter: The apostles were afraid of Jesus until he ate with them and they touched him. In your family the ordinary acts of eating together, touching, embracing not only confirm our love for each other, but also celebrate God’s presence in your family. These “ordinary” moments contain the “Extraordinary.”
April 25, 2021: Fourth Sunday of Easter: Today’s gospel is a job description for Christian parents. For most people the most influential shepherds in their lives are their PARENTS. Every parent is called to be a “good shepherd” to “freely lay down their life” for their children, to “love” and “know” their children and to “lead” them so “they know your voice.”
May 2, 2021: Fifth Sunday of Easter: Like the vine grower in today’s gospel, parents must “prune and cleanse” the branches in their family if their children are going to be rooted. Discipline, limits and setting goals are a necessary part of parenting so our children will grow and “bear fruit.”
May 9, 2021: Sixth Sunday of Easter: Today’s gospel challenges us to “love one another as I have loved you.” Jesus is our model and he asks us to “lay down our life” (our time, attention, opinions and needs) for each other. This is the sacrament of the family, when God is made visible in our sacrificial love for one another.
May 9, 2021: Mother’s Day:
The words of Jesus in today’s gospel, “Abide in me,”
are appropriate on a day we honor mothers
because there is a special bond connecting
mothers and their children, extending beyond birth and death.
They will always ‘abide’ in each other. It’s a lasting presence.
May 16, 2021: The Ascension of the Lord: As Jesus appointed apostles, he also appoints parents to represent Him in the family; “make disciples of your children, baptizing and teaching them all I have taught you. Don’t worry, I am with you always.”
May 23, 2021: Pentecost Sunday: Today, on Pentecost, we remember Christ has given us the Holy Spirit to assist us in raising our family and he expects us to use this personal gift. Let’s turn-off the noise, apps and distractions in our lives and let the Holy Spirit “guide us to the truth.”
May 30, 2021: The Most Holy Trinity: In today’s gospel Jesus commands, “Teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you.” This command is meant for every Christian. In light of this command, parenting is not only the most difficult task a person can take on, it is also one of the most apostolic and missionary tasks. Jesus commands all parents to teach their children “all that I have commanded you.”
June 6, 2021: The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ: One gets the impression there was always a lot of sharing, discussion and learning during the many meals Jesus and the disciples ate together. How does this compare to the meals in your home? Today’s gospel challenges us to make our meals more than physical functions and more a time for sharing.
June 13, 2021: 11th Sunday: Parenting is a lot like the story of the farmer in the gospel parable today. All growth is the Lord’s work. We have no control over the process. In fact, the farmer doesn’t even understand it, for the seed grows even when he sleeps. As parents, we can influence our children but nothing we do can guarantee results.
June 20, 2021: 12th Sunday: Just as the apostles in today’s gospel were amazed at the power of Jesus so our children are amazed at our lack of fear of dark rooms or monsters in closets or under beds. As the apostles depended on Jesus, children depend on us to restore quiet to their lives. Getting out of bed at night to quiet a child’s fears is the stuff of holiness.
June 20, 2021: Father’s Day:
It is interesting we call the first person of the Trinity, Father.
Our dads help us understand God as Father in the way they
love, protect, teach, discipline and spend time with us.
What an awesome responsibility, to be the window through which children view God.
June 27, 2021: 13th Sunday: The healing of the woman and the child in today’s gospel is a reminder we are all wounded. We retreat to those we love looking for acceptance, listening, understanding and support. Families must be healing communities where Jesus is present in our care for one another.
July 4, 2021: 14th Sunday: Today’s gospel is so familiar, it hurts! The home town folks couldn’t accept the presence of God in Jesus. After all, they had watched him grow up. We can easily make the same mistake if we don’t see God present in the ordinary routines of our family. “The Lord be with you” is a statement of fact. Believe it. Live it.
July 11, 2021: 15th Sunday: Jesus sent out His apostles without a lot of “things” because THINGS distract. We collect, argue about and protect our “things.” Garage sales only transfer “things.” We even ignore each other because we have “things” to do. What “things” are separating you from your family?
July 18, 2021: 16th Sunday: In today’s gospel “the apostles gathered around and told Jesus all they had done.” Listening allows the other person to express, understand and appreciate their experiences. Whether it is the excited chatter of a young child or the repetitious stories of an aging grandparent, listening is important. It is not just time well spent, it is sacred time.
July 25, 2021: 17th Sunday: In today’s gospel Phillip worried about “enough food” for the crowd. What is ENOUGH? When does our ENOUGH deprive another family of their fair share? Jesus performed today’s miracle because one child was willing to share and risk living with less. Can your family live more simply so that other families can simple live?
August 1, 2021: 18th Sunday: In today’s gospel Jesus tells us: “Do not work for what perishes.” Give your life to what endures such as the family history you are creating, the love and mutual respect which bonds you together, the memories you share and the forgiveness generously given. These are the true treasures that are worth working and dying for.
August 8, 2021: 19th Sunday: “Stop murmuring” Jesus told the disciples in today’s gospel. Complaining is a dead-end and constant complaining is nagging. We might feel better, but others feel bitter. Silence or grumbling will not resolve the problem. Address differences honestly and respectfully. Don’t make them personal attacks.
August 15, 2021: 20th Sunday: In today’s Gospel Jesus speaks of eating his flesh and blood. Parents can identify with this, for they often feel devoured by all the demands of family life. This is unavoidable for children grow in the soil of sacrificial love. Parenting is not part time work. It is a consuming lifetime commitment.
August 22, 2021: 21st Sunday: Even though many found the teachings of Jesus “difficult”, He did not back down. In our families it is important to say what is difficult to hear, to speak the truth with kindness, to correct with love and guide with understanding.
August 29, 2021: 22nd Sunday: In today’s gospel Jesus warns “what comes from within can defile” a person. Families need to worry about “outside influences” but also about “inside influences.” The values our children carry for a life time are learned at home. Habits of the Hearth are the most powerful influences on a child. That’s the good news! That can also be the bad news!
September 5, 2021: 23rd Sunday: Because the deaf man in today’s gospel recognized his disability, he could seek help from Jesus. Deafness abounds in families: in our children (“Oh dad, not that again”) in parents (“It is just a stage”) and in spouses (“Are you listening?”). Before Jesus can enter your home and heal, you must first recognize your deafness.
September 12, 2021: 24th Sunday: If we want to be happy at home, we must commit (“lose ourselves”) to our family. If we try to be independent from others (“save ourselves”) we end up lonely and alone. Happiness is found in commitments. The gospel is true: We save our life by losing it!
September 19, 2021: 25th Sunday: Disagreements are common in families. But what would you say if Jesus posed the same question “What are you arguing about?” Is it silly and petty? Is it an attempt to impose your will and control on another? Today Jesus tells us and his disciples to give it up. We are meant to serve each other, not control.
September 26, 2021: 26th Sunday: The words in today’s gospel, “Whoever gives a cup of water in the name of Christ will not lose their reward” hits us at home. As parents we gain our “reward” when we bring water to a frightened child in the middle of the night, or Kool Aid to parched five-year olds, or hold ice chips to the fevered lips of a spouse. It is that simple and that sacred. In our homes we give until it hurts “in the name of Christ.”
October 3, 2021: 27th Sunday: In today’s gospel Jesus encourages married couples to throw away the marriage rule book. Rules are for those with “hardened hearts.” Married couples are called to be a sacramental reflection of God’s faithful and selfless love…a place where people live and love beyond rules and formulas.
October 10, 2021: 28th Sunday: Having possessions is an illusion. In today’s gospel Jesus told the young man to give up his need to control and put his trust in God. He couldn’t let go! In families our need to control destroys relationships. We can lead, teach and encourage, but we can’t control anyone but ourselves.
October 17, 2021: 29th Sunday: “Advice” books abound on marriage and parenting. Jesus tells us in today’s gospel the real secret: satisfying relationships depend on how well we sacrifice our needs to serve others. It is not about “getting,” it’s about “giving” ourselves. If you feel like you are a servant to your children and spouse, then you are doing it right.
October 24, 2021: 30th Sunday: Jesus asked the blind man “What do you want from me?” he asked for sight. If Jesus asked you the same question, what would you say? Okay, that is your prayer.
October 31, 2021: 31st Sunday: In a family, children are taught to be respectful if they want to be respected, to share, if they want their fair share and to listen if they want to be heard. Family life rescues us from arrogance by teaching us to love others as we love ourselves.
November 7, 2021: 32nd Sunday: The widow in today’s gospel gave only a little, but it counted for a lot. In our homes there are many LITTLE MOMENTS which can have great significance and glue the family together. Seize the moments.
November 14, 2021: 33rd Sunday: Today’s gospel teaches us UNCERTAINTY is normal. There are some things in life which “no one knows… only the Father.” Marriage and parenting are full of uncertainty for like the fig tree in the gospel, the people we love grow and change.
November 25, 2021: Thanksgiving: As you prepare for Thanksgiving,
look back on this year to all the moments God visited your family
in unexpected blessings, or disasters avoided, or kindness and compassion received.
Realize and give thanks for “The Lord is with you.”
November 21, 2021: Christ, King of the Universe: When we are young, our parents “tell us about Jesus” and we believe what our parents believe. At some point we must leave our parents faith and ask Pilate’s question: “Are you the King?’ Pilate is just asking these questions on our behalf.