HOMILY: MASS FOR FAMILIES
Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo
National Association of Catholic Families Friday March 22, 1996 <Saint James's Church, Spanish Place, London Gospel: John 7: 1-2, 10: 25-30.>
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, dear families, it is good to see parents, grandparents and children gathered here for this family celebration of the Holy Eucharist. How wonderful it is to see the family in unity.
Let me reflect with you on the message of today's Lenten readings. Jesus did not come of himself. He was sent by the Father, "our source of life", as the Opening Prayer of this Mass puts it. He was sent to become one of us and to die for us sinners. From the first reading from the Book of wisdom and in the Gospel of Saint John, we learn that men were plotting to kill him, innocent as he was. We also discover how confused his enemies were. They did not understand that he was sent by the Father, that he was the divine Son who knows the Father, "our source of life".
The whole life of Our Lord and Saviour was a struggle between the power of life and the evil forces of death. King Herod tried to kill Jesus when he was an infant. The people in his home town tried to kill him when they did not like what he had to say to them. Finally, he allowed himself to be placed in the hands of those plotting against him, and so he suffered and was crucified. Soon we will celebrate the great events of his death and resurrection in Holy Week.
At the end of the Encyclical Letter on Human Life, <Evangelium Vitae> 104, our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, presents this struggle between life and death in a meditation on Our Lady and the Church. He says: "In the Book of Revelation, the 'great portent' of the 'woman' (12:1) is accompanied by 'another portent which appeared in heaven': 'a great red dragon' (Revelation 12:3), which represents Satan, the personal power of evil, as well as all the powers of evil at work in history and opposing the Church's mission."
Satan an appears as a dragon. I am sure all the children here know what a dragon looks like. This dragon attempts to kill the Son who was born of the woman. But he fails to destroy the Child because God protects the woman and her Son, the Son of God. The woman is crowned with twelve stars, clothed with the sun, with the moon beneath her feet. She is a sign of Mary and the Church. God is telling us that Our Lady is the immaculate Queen who triumphs and reigns.
As the Holy Father says, "Mary thus helps the Church to <realise that life is always the centre of a great struggle> between good and evil, between light and darkness." Therefore, Catholic families, be confident that life conquers death, that each of our families is truly a sanctuary of life, a beacon of light in this world.
I know that devotion to Our Lady is an important part of the spirituality of the National Association of Catholic Families. Your devotion is especially centred on your annual family pilgrimage to the National Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham in Norfolk, which is called "England's Nazareth". Devotion to Our Lady is essential for all Catholic families, because each family is meant to be another Nazareth. You, dear children, are like Jesus at Nazareth, the centre of your family.
Mary has many titles such as the Star of the Sea, Help of Christians and Queen of Peace. Now we can greet her under the beautiful title, Queen of the Family, which our Holy Father has recently proclaimed. He has even included this title in the Litany of our Lady. As you recite that beautiful Litany of Loreto, you can invite Mary to be the Queen of your family. She will triumph and reign in our homes. Dear children, you are the hope and the joy of your parents, but you have not only your loving mothers here but your mother in heaven. She loves you so much.
And at this Eucharist, Benedict Treloar will make his First Holy Communion. Benedict, may God bless you and may Mary be your mother always as you receive her Son.
At the conclusion of this Mass, we will sing the <Salve Regina>, or <Hail, Holy Queen>. In that gracious prayer we will ask Mary to show us the blessed fruit of her womb, Jesus. That is what the Queen of the Family doesshe shows us Jesus Christ; she presents Him to us; she invites us to come to Him here in this Eucharist. Therefore, as God's family gathered at his altar, let us join the Queen of the Family in welcoming Jesus once more into our hearts.