The Thursday before Christmas, I returned from a funeral at St. Joseph’s Parish in Somerville. I concelebrated a Mass with Father Richard Curran committing the soul of Margaret Murphy, mother of parishioner Jim Murphy. The hospitality that Father Curran extended to me was a great reflection on his parents, as Jim Murphy is with his mom and dad. Frankly getting up to a funeral in Somerville a few days before Christmas is not easy and quite a harrowing experience (what with the Boston rush hour traffic). I got to the Church along with our Pastoral Associate ten minutes early, and was a little anxious. Fr. Curran welcomed me, and as this was the first time we had met, we became a familiar with each other’s backgrounds, shortly thereafter he proceeded to ask me to say certain prayers in the liturgy, as well as proclaim the Gospel. He could not have been nicer, and offered a model of priestly fraternity. Before I knew it I was calmed down and laughing along with him. What a great way to prepare for the celebration of the Lord’s Coming by encountering him in this very priest. A word about the deceased. Margaret was 94 years old and had eleven children, our parishioner Jim is one of the eleven. The family sat together and you could see them comforting one another and laughing about some of the stories that their brother Jim provided in the eulogy. When Jim got up to deliver his remarks he came straight over to me, shook my hand and thanked me for being present. That embrace made the hassle of the traffic well worth the trip. Jim got up and offered various stories about his mom and dad, the important role the Church and her Irish Catholic faith meant to her, and how much she loved the neighborhood in which she spent most of her life. Jim would visit his mom at the family home often and speak via telephone every Sunday at 9:45am. They would keep their conversations to 15 minutes, which is smart rule for two Irish Americans who have no problem sharing their views on life. For those who don’t know Jim, let me share my vantage point. He is accomplished in many ways, possesses the skills of a diplomat, is a great husband who is in love with his wife Lisa (she is the outgoing part of the couple), is a supportive father, past president of the Marshfield Boys and Girls Club and a very active volunteer in the community. He lives out the Gospel of Jesus Christ in his actions, and has brought great pride to his parents and family.
I share this Christmas story with you because it provides another dimension of what the Holy Family was all about.
There are so many families like the Murphy’s that will go without mention in newspapers or media, but it is written in the book of life that finds great treasure in Heaven. This Christmas Season as we celebrate Mass, let us remember as Catholics we are in the image of the 1st Holy Family, let us take time to thank God for each of the members of our family who have gone before us marked in the sign of faith, who we have entrusted to God’s Providence and Kingdom let us honor their memories by reaching out to any family members we may have some ‘issue’ and remember the gift that God has given in our grandparents, parents, friends and neighbors. Come join me on New Year’s Day at the 7:30 or 10:00 Mass to thank God for all these gifts!
Happy New Year and enjoy the bowl games!