What you thankful for in your relationship with your sweetheart? And in your family? In other words, what is worth celebrating? Did you know that God invented celebrations? Pope Francis explained this so well in a homily (August 12, 2015) that I’d like to share it with you and provide some further food for thought.
He said, “Today we will speak of celebration. And we say immediately that a celebration is an invention of God. We recall the conclusion of the account of Creation in the Book of Genesis, which we heard: “And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all his work which he had done in creation” (2:2-3). God himself teaches us the importance of dedicating a time to contemplate and enjoy what was well done in work. I speak of work, of course, not only in the sense of a job or profession, but in the wider sense: every action with which we men and women can collaborate in the creative work of God.”
Marriage is work. Everyone who’s been married long enough to suffer relationship problems knows this. Love never dies, but the feeling of being loved and wanting to give love does die, now and then. Marriages don’t succeed because of good feelings; they succeed because of the work we put into get past the rough spots, helping our spouses, and improving ourselves so that we become better spouses.
Raising children is work. Every parent knows that. And such blessed work it is! So very valuable and important! It’s a ministry, a mission for the sake of love and for the sake of the goodness our children will eventually give to the world.
“A celebration is first of all a loving and thankful look on work well done; we celebrate a work.”
God wants us to celebrate what is good and well done in our relationships with our sweethearts and our families, partly because he is a God of joy, the Lord of all that is worthy of thanks, deserving of our gratefulness. And partly because celebrations within family life remind us to take time to appreciate what is good, which in turn enhances and deepens our love for one another.
To newlyweds, Pope Francis says: “You, newlyweds, are celebrating the work of a good time of engagement: and this is beautiful.”
To parents and grandparents, he says: “It is the time to look at children or grandchildren who are growing and to think: how lovely!”
To all of us he says: “It is the time to look at our home, the guests we entertain, the community that surrounds us, and to think: what a good thing!”
To those who are grieving the lost of loved ones, and to those who are suffering from damaged relationships or illnesses or other hardships, he says: “It can happen that a celebration arrives in difficult or painful circumstances, and one celebrates perhaps ‘with a lump in one’s throat.’ Yet, in these cases also we ask God for the strength not to divest it completely.”
Jesus is saying, through Pope Francis, that we need to celebrate even during grief and hardships! It is God’s will for us. It is part of the healing he wants to provide. Celebrations are conduits of love. “You mothers and fathers know this well: how many times, out of love for the children, you are able to put aside displeasures to let them live a celebration well, to taste the good sense of life! There is so much love in this!”
To those who have jobs, he says that finding reasons to celebrate become opportunities to bring God’s goodness to the workplace: “Sometimes in the work environment also – without failing in duties – we are able to ‘infiltrate’ a burst of celebration: a birthday, a marriage, a new birth, as also a departure or a new arrival. It’s important. It’s important to celebrate. They are moments of familiarity in the gears of the productive machine: it does us good!”
It’s very important that celebrations, like the Thanksgiving holiday we’re celebrating in the US this Thursday, are time-outs from work. During holidays, we should turn off the computers and cell phones that link us to our jobs, and we should do our best to not contribute to the work of others, such as those who work in stores and restaurants that are open on holidays. Because, as Pope Francis explains, celebrations are sacred:
“A true time of celebration halts professional work and is sacred, because it reminds man and woman that they are made in the image of God, who is not a slave of work, but Lord; therefore, we also must never be slaves of work, but ‘lords.'”
See? God wants us to take charge of the work and stop it from creeping into our celebrations! God has given us the authority, even if our employers have not, to say no to slave-like conditions in our jobs. Our jobs are meant to serve us, not control us.
Pope Francis further clarifies this: “There is a commandment for this, a commandment that concerns all; no one is excluded! And instead we know that there are millions of men and women and even children that are slaves of work! In this time they are slaves, they are exploited, slaves of work and this is against God and against the dignity of the human person! The obsession of economic profit and the efficiency of technology put at risk the human rhythms of life, because life has its human rhythms. A time of rest, especially that of Sunday, is given to us so that we can enjoy what is not produced or consumed, not purchased or sold. And instead we see that the ideology of profit and consumption also wants to consume the celebration: the latter is also reduced sometimes to a ‘doing,’ to a way of making and spending money. But do we work for this? The greed of consuming, which entails waste is an awful virus that, among other things, in the end makes us feel more tired than before. It harms true work and consumes life. The disorderly rhythms of a celebration create victims — often young people.”
In other words, celebrations are sacred because of our human dignity!
And then Pope Francis says: “Finally, the time of celebration is sacred because God dwells in it in a special way. The Sunday Eucharist brings to a celebration all the grace of Jesus Christ: his presence, his love, his sacrifice, his making us community, his being with us. And in this way every reality receives its full meaning: work, family, the joys and efforts of every day, also suffering and death; everything is transfigured by the grace of Christ.”
Celebrations are best as family events. If you don’t have a family gathering to enjoy, consider your faith family, your friends from the community of believers, your brothers and sisters in Christ. There’s nothing wrong with inviting yourself over to join in another family’s celebrations, because they care about you already and if they only knew you’d like to celebrate with them, they would be more than glad to invite you in!
Pope Francis says, “The family is endowed with an extraordinary capacity to understand, direct and sustain the genuine value of the time of celebration. But how lovely are the celebrations in the family, they are most beautiful!”
And this brings us back to an earlier thought: Raising children is very blessed work, so very valuable and important. It’s a ministry, a mission for the sake of love and for the sake of the goodness our children will eventually give to the world.
Pope Francis says, “It is no accident that the celebrations in which there is place for the whole family are those that succeed better! Family life itself, looked at with the eyes of faith, seems better than the efforts it costs. It seems a masterpiece of simplicity, good precisely because it is not artificial or false, but [is] able to incorporate in itself all the aspects of a true life. It appears as something ‘very good,’ as God says at the end of the creation of man and of woman (cf. Genesis 1:31).”
The Pope’s concluding sentence is a commission: “A celebration is a precious gift of God; a precious gift that God has made to the human family: let’s not ruin it!”
Let us reflect on this whenever an upcoming event, such as Thanksgiving, is approaching on our calendars. What arguments, what disagreements, what losses, what unpleasant personalities endanger the gift of celebration? With God’s help and conscious determination, we can bring more joy into. That is our mission, assigned to us by Jesus himself!
❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤
© 2015 by Terry Modica of Good News Ministries