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Holy Family Church Celebrates

Dec 31, 2008, 5:25 AM | Article By: Augustine Kanjia

The feast of the Holy Family falls immediately after Christmas in remembrance of Jesus Mary and Joseph. The only Catholic Church with the name in The Gambia situated at Fajara celebrates in joy just after Christmas. The joy of Christmas seems to be pushed to that celebration, which brings parishioners and well wishers together to celebrate as a family.

Under the parish priest, Rev. Fr. Louis Mendy CSSp, parishioners brought in food that was served on free basis to every member present. The Mass was officiated by His Lordship Bishop Robert P. Ellison CSSp concelebrated by Rev. Fr. Joseph Carl Gomez, the Rector of the Junior Seminary at lamin, with Fr. Louis Mendy CSSp, the parish priest of Stella Maris Parish, Bakau with members from other churches.

In his sermon, Bishop Ellison CSSp said in the days of Moses every first child must be consecrated to the Lord. When Jesus was taken for the ceremony something unusual happened. "An old man called Simeon came up and took Jesus and sang that beautiful Canticle of Simeon, and said, 'Now Lord I can go in peace for my eyes have seen the promise," Bishop said. He further said that Simeon was ready to die since he had fulfilled his desires. He said Simeon continued with what he calls bitter message. "He is destined to cause sorrow and grief to many in Israel. The angel said there was great news that the Saviour is born but Simeon's sorrow and grief news was not good," he said.

We hear about Christ's 12 years with His family. Joseph also stayed in solitude after that and nothing is known about him after that. Jesus he said grew in wisdom, in experience and learning. He learnt carpentry from Joseph. Bishop says, "When we are young we begin to wonder what we are to do. At the age of 12 He stayed behind in the temple, he caused his parents to be worried for three days. When He was found He said to His parents, "Don't you know I must be about my Father's business? Why did they allow the mistake? They rather faced the reality.

Talking to children, Bishop Ellison urged children to respect their parents and advised parents not to push their children to resentment or else they will be frustrated. "I suspect the challenges of parenting now are far more challenging than in far away village of Nazareth over 2000 years ago. How far do we go correcting our children without driving them to resentment? Who is there to tell them not to turn on the television? Who is there to ask them to study? Bishop asked.

"Let us learn from Nazareth that the formation of children is genuine," Pope Paul said. I see in my brother's children the difficulties parents face. So don't go to Mass, we must find a way of maintaining them. As a family we must come together to celebrate our family life to be shared with the outside world.

The Sunday reflection prepared by Fr. Louis Mendy CSSp for the feast states, "We find few stories about the infancy of Jesus in the Canonical Gospels. Luke gives us one of them in his account of the Presentation in the Temple. In accordance with the Law, the parents of Jesus took him to the Temple. They may have gone for the sake of the purification of Mary (Lv 12:2-8) or for the presentation of Jesus (Ex 13:1-2). Action inspired by a desire to fulfil the requirements of God's Law, concluded in a double manifestation of his prophetic Spirit.

In the Temple, they met two aged Israelites, representatives of the anawin, the poor of Israel who put all their trust in God. Their sanctity and age remind us of Abraham and Sarah (Gen 17). The Spirit prompted Simeon to prophesy about the future of the child, of Israel, of Mary herself. Using language familiar from Deutero-Isaiah (46:13 52:10), he declared that the child personified the salvation God intended for all the nations. For Israel, his message was a mixture of comfort and lament, since, through this child would bring about the rising of many, it would also be a sign of contradiction and rejection for others. The first preaching of Jesus in Nazereth (4: 16-30) and indeed the rest of Luke's Gospel and Acts demonstrate the truth of this prophecy. As for Mary herself, Simeon saw how in the future a sword would pierce her heart. Mary's role in the life of Jesus was not only that of mother but that of follower. As a disciple, many things would happen to her, which she would understand. An example is the next incident in the gospel, when her child was lost in Jerusalem and she failed to grasp what is his explanation meant (2: 41-50).

Often in Luke, a story about a man is followed by another involving a woman (15:4-10). Once Simeon had uttered his prophecy, Anna, an aged widow and prophetess, met Jesus. Like Simeon, she typifies Luke's respect for the Old Testament and the New. Like a good Lucan Christian, she prayed, praised God and spoke of Jesus and the deliverance of Israel. She is the first of the devote widows in Luke.

With the above ideas in mind the Feast of the Holy Family Church at Bakau should shine as a brighter example since they are the only Catholic Church in the country that have the name, they should therefore be of a better example as a family than other parishes. This they showed by their example this past week when they invited other parishioners and friends to come and dine with them at their church premises. The eating, drinking and dancing continued the whole day. Some parishioners observed that more of parishioner participation is needed to get the family taste that belongs to all. An old man urged the youth to prepare for the family day in the future and make it a real joyous moment by their actions and output. A visitor who refused to be named thanked Fr. Louis Mendy CSSp for the day and thanked those who brought very delicious meals that were served free to anyone with a plate. "I wish the parish organises this all the time, it is enriching" said Aunty Rosvida Mattia.