Once again its been holiday movie season lately, and once again when the movie Home Alone is on I always cry at the end of it. If you remember, there's that creepy old man who lives next to little Kevin McAllister. On Christmas eve, Kevin sits in a Church and the old man starts up a conversation with him. He starts talking about how, many years ago he had an argument with his son, they lost their tempers, they said things, and how they haven't spoken since - but that even though you can hurt your family and they can hurt you, deep down you always love them; so the old man comes to Church to listen to his granddaughter sing in the choir cause that's the only way he can see her.
Kevin very plainly tells the old man to call his son; how he has nothing to lose and everything to gain, his family - and that's what is most important. At the end of the movie, on a snowy Christmas morning, without words or explanation, you see the old man hugging his granddaughter and his son as he welcomes them back into his home. Bitterness and past hurts were set aside - because love is bigger than those things.
Today is the feast of the Holy Family, not the perfect family. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph had their misadventures and their heartaches just as we do in our families -. But holiness is about something much deeper than perfection - and something much more important.
Holiness is about forgiveness and mercy and love - despite the anger, the frustration, the impatience, the disappointment, the hurtedness, the resentment, the deep wounds which often can mark our families - its about being who God shows us to be.
Jesus taught us, 30 some years after this manger scene, that love means something more than good intentions - it means real and concrete and sometimes even painful forgiveness. And even from this manger he speaks the same message to us today.
Christmas is not over yet - we have another week or so to go, it's not too late. Perhaps there is someone in your family - you know who I mean - someone you need to call - someone you need to send an email to or even a facebook poke - someone who's house you should visit - someone in a nursing home that you know you really should stop and see. Tomorrow is not promised to any of us - and one day it will be too late to do or say the things we know that we should.
And remember to do something important with your family this next week or so- come down here to this manger scene together and offer a prayer for yourselves. Come down to this manger scene an offer a prayer for a family member who is separated or estranged from you, even if they have already gone home to the Lord.
Perfect endings are never promised to us - but we have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.
We all need to pray for the grace to put the love of this Holy Family into action in our daily lives in real and concrete ways. God help us all +