BY Amanda Connelly | January 5 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Support the family by taking part in Ireland’s global meet-up, bishop says

Bishop Hugh Gilbert of Aberdeen Diocese has encouraged Scots to celebrate and support the family, by attending the World Meeting of Families in Dublin this year

At Mass in Aberdeen’s St Mary’s Cathedral on New Year’s Eve, the feast of the Holy Family, the bishop focused his homily on the idea of family both in the Bible and in everyday life.

“From August 21 to 26 next year, there is a World Meeting of Families in Dublin,” he said. “It’s a moment for strengthening family life, celebrating it and learning more about it.

“Everybody is invited to attend, says the website, including single people, couples with or without children, extended families and clergy. Thousands of families and individuals from all over Ireland and the world are expected to attend. Some may come as a family, others might come on their own, others as part of an organisation. Adults, youth and children are all invited to take part.”

He also reminded the congregation that Ireland is not so far away, and that a national pilgrimage is being organised for those wishing to attend from Scotland.

Bishop Gilbert said there is ‘something for all of us’ and that he and other bishops are ‘blessed’ to experience ‘hospitable’ families.

“We may not be able to go. We may not care to go. But there is something for all of us in gestures like this. It’s about families supporting one another,” he said. “There are Catholic associations that cater for this: the Catenians in their way, Couples for Christ, Teams of our Lady, etc.

“Again, this isn’t everyone’s way. But here’s one last word from the feast of the Holy Family: hospitality. A hospitable family is a beautiful thing. Its doors are open and its grace spreads out. A bishop is often blessed to experience this.

“When the shepherds came to the stable, Joseph and Mary didn’t say, ‘Sorry, we’re having supper’ or, ‘Not now please, she’s feeding the baby.’ The Holy Family welcomed the Jewish shepherds and the Gentile philosophers. The Church was born. And Mary, Joseph and their child now shelter us all and await us in the home of Heaven.”

The bishop also spoke more widely on family life, reflecting on the day’s readings and drawing on examples from the Bible, which is ‘full of families,’ including Adam and Eve and their children Cain, Abel and Seth; Abraham and Sarah; the family histories in Genesis; Jesus’ family tree at the beginning of St Matthew’s Gospel; Elizabeth, Zechariah and their son John in St Luke’s Gospel; and Jesus, Mary and Joseph beginning the New Testament.

“First of all, I suppose, this feast and its first two readings encourage us to reflect, to examine our conscience,” he said. “What kind of son or daughter, husband or wife, mother or father, brother or sister or cousin, have I been, am I now? Have I done all that ‘the law of the Lord requires’?

“We all have ground to make up here. We all have to keep the kettle on and the tea warm, as it were. One of the lessons of family life, certainly, is the long view: to wait for things to come right or be all they could be. But there is usually some step we can take here and now.

“This year this feast falls on the last day of the year. Perhaps, there is a resolution about our family relationships we could make?”

Pope Francis is due to be at the World Meeting of Families in August this year, as part of his visit to the Republic of Ireland.

Thousands are expected to attend, including families from Scotland and across the rest of the world.

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