Here’s my homily for the Feast of the Holy Family, Sunday, December 28, 2008. Readings for the day can be found at http://www.usccb.org/nab/122808.shtml
Merry Christmas and thanks for reading!
Football fans, and Giants fans in particular give mixed reviews to former coach Jim Fassel. With some legitimate criticism for his leadership of the team, people often times didn’t look beyond his sports performance. Because of that, many probably missed this story which told what a true "giant" Jim Fassel really is.
After the terrorist attacks on New York City on September 11th, Fassel had gone down to Ground Zero with some other sports personalities to offer just some comfort to the rescue workers. While Fassel was there, he met some Firemen who were searching for fallen brothers and he learned how one of the fallen firemen had left a wife with 10 kids. Fassel said "My God, I have to do something – I want to pay for their college." The men who by that point had heard a billion such promises joked "Oh yeah coach, can I get your phone number." The firemen recalled that Fassel began to sob – but they recall even more how he kept his promise. He establishing the Jim Fassel Foundation which is supporting the Palombo family among many others. A few years ago, Lt. John Atwell of FDNY Engine 219/Ladder 105 said "He's a famous football coach, and you can take that and be selfish with it [if you choose to]. No matter what the score of Giants game, he's a winner with the New York Fire Department." Each year, we celebrate this Feast of the Holy Family. Theologians, homilists, psychologists warn about the fact that this is a difficult feast in our day and our time. Some feel inadequate with their family of origin. Some feel hurt and angry (and some for good reason). Yet, in a sense reading that story about Jim Fassel, I couldn’t help but think that in a way, he made it holy. It’s easy to be critical and jaded and say Oh – he’s got so much money – Oh it’s only one family – but I bet for the Palombo family, it’s not just the money that’s appreciated (and needed) but that he blessed that family with his Love and concern and in doing so, helped to make it Holy.
What we celebrate in this feast of the Holy Family is that Jesus’ entrance into humanity his entrance into this world with all of it’s inadequacies and hurts and angers was through a family. He blessed the lives of Mary and Joseph in a unique and special way and made it Holy. By our welcoming him into our lives and our families – letting him share his love and concern – it too can become Holy. And for those who do struggle, those who do hurt, those that are inadequate or where there’s hurt or anger, by our love and concern – we bring Jesus to them – and can even make them Holy as well.