Healing the Family Tree

(Homily for Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Cycle C)

Bottom line: During this month of July - a time when we reflect on our roots - I invite you to join me in prayer for healing the family tree.

During this month of July I have a special project: I would like to invite your participation in the healing of one's family tree. It is appropriate for this month because in July the United States and other countries celebrate their roots.

All of us form part of a nation and a family. We see that beautifully expressed in the first reading: the image of Israel as an abundant mother who holds her children in her lap. Jesus also emphasizes solidarity as he sends his disciples two by two.

We discover ourselves in relationship to others. Most of feel a sense of gratitude for our nationality, for example, to be an American. And we generally see our family as a gift. At the same time, it has inevitable negative aspects - things that require healing and transformation.

St. Paul speaks about transforming a heritage. In today's reading we see him taking a new approach to an important sign of Jewish identity. In place of circumcision he speaks about bearing the "marks of Jesus" - that is, the wounds of the cross - on his body.

Healing the family tree is a way of bringing one's heritage to the cross. It is actually quite simple. Healing the family tree involves remembering one's immediate ancestors and praying for them.

Here is what I suggest: If your parents are alive, ask them the names of grandparents and great-grandparents who have died. Write the names down and remember them when you pray, especially when you come to Mass. You will notice the Mass has two moments when remember the deceased: at the end of the General Intercessions and during the Eucharist Prayer.

Perhaps you are like me - your parents and grandparents have died. Write their names down. If you do not know a name, write "father unknown" or "grandmother unknown." You may not know them, but God does. By praying for them, you express gratitude for the life and other gifts you have received through them. You will feel peace because you are fulfilling an important commandment: Honor your father and your mother.

Something else will happen when you pray for your ancestors. You will experience healing. Perhaps an ancestor was involved in something negative like alcoholism or fraud or the occult. They may be undergoing the process of cleansing that we call Purgatory. By praying for them - especially at Mass - you help them and also yourself.

We know from medicine that we all inherit certain genetic predispositions - for example to diabetes or hypertension or certain kinds of cancer. Something similar happens in the spiritual life. In that case God can heal those predispositions at their roots. It happens by praying for healing of the family tree.

During this month of July - a time when we reflect on our roots - I invite you to join me in prayer for healing the family tree.


Spanish Version

From Archives (14th Sunday, Year C):

2007: Stepping Out
2004: The Wealth of Nations
2001: What We Need
1998: Political Involvement and Discipleship

Other Homilies

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)

My bulletin column

St. Mary of the Valley Album

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