Summary: Clear guidelines with reasonable consequences. High school kids are looking for words of wisdom.

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

Some of you will celebrate New Year’s Eve via your television. I like what some comedian said about that. He said, “I love it when they drop the ball in Times Square. It’s a nice reminder of what I did all year.”

Our First Reading is indicative of the overarching image offered by the wisdom tradition in the Bible which is that of the family as a learning center, where the insights of older generations are passed to the young.

i.e. Clear guidelines with reasonable consequences. High school kids are looking for words of wisdom.

Taking away privileges can be one of the most effective discipline strategies.

e.g. A mother was folding laundry while across the room her daughter Beverly was playing with her toys. The mother noticed Beverly’s shirt was dirty and needed to be changed. After calling two times with no response, her mother gave her the full three-name call, “Beverly Elizabeth Provost, did you hear me?” Beverly answered, “Yes, Mama. My ears did, but my legs didn’t.”

Privileges need to be earned; they're not a given right. But make it clear how your child can earn the privileges back.

Jesus had privileges when he was growing up. And they never had to be taken away!

E.g. Pope Francis focuses on the episode, found in Luke’s Gospel alone, where a twelve year old Jesus is found by his parents in the Temple of Jerusalem, after they had lost sight of him on their return from their pilgrimage.

Mary and Joseph notice his absence after one day.

“This may surprise us given our possibly small-minded perception of the Holy Family. But it is a beautiful illustration of how freedom and obedience went hand in hand in the Holy Family. The twelve year old was given the freedom to decide whether to join his peers and friends and spend the journey with them.”

2). A family can’t be a learning center if class is never in session.

Writer Michael Quoist wrote, “When I was young, my mother was going to read me a story, but she had to wax the bathroom floor and there wasn’t time.

“When I was young, my father and I were going to go hiking in the Sierras but at the last minute he had to fertilize the lawn and there wasn’t time.

“When I grew up and left home to be married, I was going to sit down with Mom and Dad and tell them I loved them and would miss them, but my best man was honking the horn in front of my house so there wasn’t time.”

3). Here is something we all need to learn about contemporary family life. The catechism says that “The family has a prophetic role just by being the normal reference point by which the different forms of family relationship are to be evaluated model of ‘a man and woman united in marriage, together with their children’” (2202).

Here are some excerpts from “Created Male and Female: An Open Letter from Religious Leaders,” published on December 15, 2017.

Dear Friends: As leaders of various communities of faith throughout the United States, many of us came together in the past to affirm our commitment to marriage as the union of one man and one woman and as the foundation of society.

We come together to join our voices on a more fundamental precept of our shared existence, namely, that human beings are male or female and that the socio-cultural reality of gender cannot be separated from one's sex as male or female.

We acknowledge and affirm that all human beings are created by God and thereby have an inherent dignity. We also believe that God created each person male or female; therefore, sexual difference is not an accident or a flaw—it is a gift from God that helps draw us closer to each other and to God. What God has created is good. "God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them" (Gen 1:27).

A person's discomfort with his or her sex, or the desire to be identified as the other sex, is a complicated reality that needs to be addressed with sensitivity and truth. Each person deserves to be heard and treated with respect; it is our responsibility to respond to their concerns with compassion, mercy and honesty. As religious leaders, we express our commitment to urge the members of our communities to also respond to those wrestling with this challenge with patience and love.

……However, gender ideology harms individuals and societies by sowing confusion and self-doubt. The movement today to enforce the false idea—that a man can be or become a woman or vice versa—is deeply troubling. It compels people to either go against reason—that is, to agree with something that is not true—or face ridicule, arginalization, and other forms of retaliation.

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