The Gift of our Family and healing of our Family History

December 17, 2020 – Thursday, Third Day of Misa de Aguinaldo

Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/121720.cfm)

Homily

I come from a family of fishermen. For hundreds of years, my ancestors’ main occupation was fishing. Our family’s history revolved around the sea and the various fish we could find within the Island of Mactan. In fact, our family’s surname is related to fishing. I became aware of this when I found my Papa’s long list of names of our ancestry. Papa loved history and most especially the history of our family.

Papa told me stories of our great-grand fathers and mothers who created significant impact in our small history. As I listened to those long and many stories of Papa, he too shared interesting and exciting stories of significant people in our history. Later, he was not hesitant anymore to share with us some disheartening, scandalous and painful stories in the family.

Yet, what I found funniest in our family history was Papa’s claim that our family come from the lineage of the great Lapu-Lapu, the first hero in our archipelago and defeated Fernando de Magallanes.

Nevertheless, though funny it is, our own small family history has a small part in the story of 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines. Part of our family tradition is the devotion to the Sto. Niño as it is common among Cebuano families. We too have our own share of miracle stories with the Sto. Niño which made our Christian faith to grow.

From this story of my own family, this also brings me into God’s invitation for us today, on this Second Day of our Misa de Aguinaldo. Thus, I would like to deepen today’s reflection on the Gift of our Family and the Healing of our Family History.

Each of us, is also a product of our vast family history. It is not that we are doomed and chained by the past, but we are being enriched by a vast history. Our families have our own history of both joys and sorrows, failures and successes, of horrors and victories.

Our family history tells us who we are and it is part of our identity. Hence, it is also very important that we become in touch with our own family history and see how God works within our story. Besides, knowing our family history, this will be an opportunity for us to allow God to heal our broken and painful past present in our family history.

Let me bring you now on how God works within a human family and how God reveals the Divine Plan in the family history of the whole humanity. The first reading from the Book of Genesis tells us how Jacob called his sons and bestowed the blessing to Judah the fourth son. The blessing also contains the prophecy of the rise of a King, in the person of David, the very lineage of Jesus claimed in the Gospel of Matthew.

This family of Jacob was not guiltless. The lineage had stories of repeated unfaithfulness and scandalous personalities. Jesus’ lineage is not perfect and not wholesome at all. In fact, Judah sold his own brother, Joseph for money. There was King David who raped Bathsheba and then later ordered to murder her husband. There was Rahab, who was a prostitute. There was King Ahaz who burned his own son alive as a human sacrifice. There was another King, Joash, who committed idolatry against Yahweh and murdered the people in the Temple area. And there was the once revered King Solomon who built the Temple pf God but later on, turned to be unfaithful to God by turning to the gods and goddesses of his many wives.

In this kind of family history, is there any good news here, when, in fact, Jesus did not come from a “good” and “blameless” family?

Despite the unfaithfulness and guilt within this family history, God never wavered His plan to make something good, wonderful and beautiful in this family. The Gospel of Matthew that has been proclaimed to us today, contained a long list of generations until the birth of Jesus.

Matthew recorded the family tree of Jesus with 42 generations divided into three, that makes it 14. 14 is the equivalent of two 7. Seven is a perfect number in Jewish belief. And the repeated use of 7 means that God works in this human family in an absolutely perfect way. The family tree though not perfect but with traces of sins and unfaithfulness, God works within this human family to bring healing and life.

The family tree of Jesus is God’s statement to us that God indeed journeyed with us, in all our humanity, in all our sins and unfaithfulness. Jesus, being born in a human family, tells us that God fully embraces our humanity. With our imperfection, God made it to be the very space for us to encounter him and to know him.

This calls us now to own and recognize the gift of our family. Some of us must have been traumatized and carrying deep wounds because of what happened in our family, others could have been divided because of conflict over material possessions, many families are also struggling to live because of so much poverty. And with all of this, God invites us today, that as we recognize our sins and failures, God is also telling us to recognize how God unfolds blessings and graces in our human family.

Let us also ask the Lord to grant healing to our wounded families, to bring healing to any pain and shame that are haunting us until now, healing to broken relationships, and freedom to our hearts and memories imprisoned by anger, hatred and indifference. Hinaut pa.

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