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Fr. Charles "Chuck" Wood

The Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

On leaving the synagogue, Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John. (Mk. 1:29-39)

As I look at this verse from Mark's gospel, Jesus entered a house resembling the neighborhood's old days. The house was packed, and you did not know who was family because we were all family to each other. For this reason, I am sharing a homely from my wife, Charlene's brother, Fr. Charles "Chuck" Wood. We are "Holy when we accept each other!"

"Holy," Means More than "Church-y"

When we celebrated the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph during the recent Christmas Season, I thought of a little sign I saw at the beach house of a fun-loving couple who generously let my religious community use the house rent-free. Remember that their adult children and their grandchildren use the place too, and the whole family enjoys gathering there in different combinations. This sign says, "Just remember: As far as everyone else is concerned, we're a perfectly normal family."

Comparing, well, "normal" ideas of "normal" and "holy," where would you put your family? (Apply that question to your family of birth or adoption or whatever forms of family you might consider.) I bet many of us wish we could get to low-drama "normal," let alone reach the heights of "holy." Even more, the goal of imitating the Holy Family could intimidate us.

Notice that liturgy honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, and the child Jesus isn't "the Feast of the Church-y Family."

No, I'm not saying we don't need to participate in Mass faithfully (in both senses of that word). I'm not dismissing devotions or church-related ministries and activities. I'm proposing that holiness is not only about those things.

One way to describe Christian holiness is, "experiencing a right relationship with the Holy Trinity"—that is, growing into our identity as sons and daughters of God the Father; asking Jesus to help us know him better, to love him more, to become more like him as his disciple; yielding more and more to the Holy Spirit.

All those are ways of thinking about being holy as individuals and as families. These descriptions spell out a dynamic lifelong adventure. Every moment we exist, we can grow holier: More like Christ, feeling stronger godly desires to please God and do what God wants us to do and experiencing stronger abilities to fulfill those godly desires (see Philippians 2:13).

Seeing it like that, we can picture "degrees of holiness" you and your family can grow into.

Since we're looking at family, I'll end with one element of family life that I bet is true for all of us striving to lead lives of faith. That is, family members—or whole families in our extended family—who've never had faith or have rejected the Christian faith they grew up with or didn't think much about "all that religious stuff" one way or the other. Maybe you've prayed for them for years and decades. Maybe you haven't seen any (outward) changes. Maybe it looks like they're drifting further from God, from faith. You think it's a miracle if at least at Christmas and Easter and weddings and funerals, they "go to church."

But, again, keep in mind that holiness isn't just "churchiness." One degree of holiness, which I mention above, is doing what God wants us to do.

Pray for that kind of holiness in more and more areas of the lives of your "unchurched" relatives. Holiness shows up every time they resist doing something that's wrong for a child of God the Father. They live out a kind of holiness whenever they act like Jesus Christ. Holiness grows every time the Holy Spirit prompts their conscience about something God wants them to do . . . and they do it.


So, keep praying for their full conversion (or reconversion). Pray that active membership in a church family becomes a normal part of their lives. But in the meantime, pray for them—and for all of us—to grow into the kind of relationship with God that we picture St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin Mary having and to grow into the kind of interrelationships we think of in the Holy Family. Pray for all of us to grow holier by degrees.

Author: Pastor, Fr. Charles “Chuck” Wood, St Elizabeth of Hungary, St. Elizabeth of Hungary Catholic Church – A friendly, Christ-centered parish in the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon ( Member of the African American Catholic community of Oregon, outreach organization.

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Thank you, Fr Chuck.

I pray that the Lord's Light will shine through our words, deeds and actions so that others will come to know, love and recognize Jesus in their life.

God bless you and the work of Your Hands. 🙏


I enjoyed reading, "Holy" Means More Than Church-y."

The article had me to reflect on my sinful nature as a human being followed by the faith and hope that I have in our loving, forgiving and redeeming, Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As long as we have the breath of life within us, there's opportunity to seek forgiveness for our sins and respond to the prompting of the Holy Spirit with, "yes, Lord. I will do Your Will. "

The article also brought to mind the words in Donnie McClurkin's song, "We Fall Down." Specifically, "For a Saint is just a sinner who fell down and got back up."

Yes, I too truly believe, "Every moment we exist, we ca…

Replying to

From Fr. Chuck Wood: Thank you, Ms. Sanders, for taking time and making time for this inspiring reply that's full of insight, humility, and hope! Your brother in Christ, Fr. Chuck

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