Family is a very important gift that most of us have been entrusted with. We are aware, though, that this is not always the case, and that families can all too easily be dysfunctional. But I have been blessed with a family, immediate and extended, that is warm, loving, and a blessing. I mentioned the grandparents the other day. I have spoken of Mom and Dad on numerous occasions, And my sister and best friend, Janie, and Sammy the pup, are a true blessing. My aunts and uncles have all gone home to heaven, but we are enriched with countless cousins and their children and grandchildren (one cousin's daughter, Jenifer from Costa Rica celebrates her birthday today and another cousin's grandson, Ben, from Ohio, is dealing with an unknown illness - face book keeps you on top of things). Last summer the Stoviak cousins and families gather near Cleveland for a reunion that was a lot of fun and many of the Lenard cousins keep in touch regularly. All of this is a blessing.
Through our baptism we are integrated into the Family of God and come to share relationships and bonds that bind us to each other. In my ministry I have encountered people that touched my life and even if the years intervene, are still a part of my being. After all of these various assignments I still run into people who remember me or whom I have memories of and the joy of remembering comes into play. To see how their lives have developed and how they have grown is remarkable. This Saturday the son of two good friends of mine, Donna and George Parish from Masontown, will be married. I first met their son, George, when I arrived in Masontown and he was in Kindergarten at All Saints, where his mother taught. Young George is now in his thirties and an engineer, and marrying a fine young woman whom I look forward to meeting.
Tonight a group of us from the former Saint Francis Seminary along with another priest from Pittsburgh gathered at the rectory of Father Dennis Colamarino in Duquesne to share a meal, to catch up with each other, and to tell stories. We had great fun. It was good to be family again, even though of the eight of us, four are dealing with health issues - the class of '73 is aging fast.
Today the Church also acknowledges the gift of family in the feast of Saint Martha, who along with her sister, Mary and brother Lazarus, were close friends of Jesus. Their story of family and extended family, of love, acceptance and hospitality, is recorded in the Scriptures. We can find strength and inspiration in them and blessing and grace in our family ties with Jesus and his family.