Holy Family

Holy Family

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Feast of Saint Zeno

Good morning. “Peace be with you.” These words, ‘peace be with you’, is the greeting offered to the Apostles in today's Gospel when Jesus meets with them for the first time following His resurrection. Some of His next words are much more intriguing, “Have you anything here to eat?” And then they gave Him a piece of baked fish. This rather homespun inquiry could likely be spoken in nearly any household on any given day of the week. I mention this because it strikes me that a number of the significant events of Our Lord’s life center around food, as it does for most of us. In fact, we read in yesterday’s Gospel that the disciples whom Jesus encounters on the road to Emmaus came to recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread. Last Thursday we read from the Gospel of John of Jesus having supper with his Apostles for the final time before His crucifixion.

 So, it should come as no surprise to know that family meals have a significantly positive influence upon the emotional wellbeing of the family. Research suggests that there exists less incidence of drug usage amongst children whose families consistently break bread together. In fact it is through the intimacy of sharing meals together that we come to appreciate the sense of peace that Jesus refers to in today’s Gospel from Luke. Family meal time is a time in each day when families can count on coming together and reconnect. Family meal time is something which today’s fast paced society, a society where children are overly involved outside the home and parents are disconnected, sorely needs. Family meal time is such a simple, yet wonderful opportunity for families to connect both emotionally and spiritually, that I am not at all surprised to hear Our Lord inquire ‘What’s for dinner?’ 

There is a great deal of benefit to be received from families taking the time to sit down and break bread together. A survey from The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) says that the more often children have dinners with their parents, the less likely they are to smoke, drink or use drugs, and that parental engagement fostered around the dinner table is one of the most potent tools to help parents raise healthy, drug-free children. Studies likewise show that children who eat dinners at home with their families are not as likely to be depressed, be suicidal, or to develop eating disorders. Children who regularly break bread at home with their parents are more likely to delay sexual activity until marriage and make better life choices. Besides, it cost two times as much to eat out. The difference is that family dinner time allows for family sharing and instills in the children that they are part of something bigger than themselves. 

 It seems our Lord was onto something even back then regarding the importance of family meals and spending dinner time together. According to the studies by CASA that among families who regularly break bread together, academic performance went up 38%. Kids were 142% less likely to smoke, 93% less likely to drink, 191% less likely to use marijuana and 169% less likely to have more than half of their friends be drug users. Our late pontiff, Blessed Pope John Paul II, was well aware of the importance of family. He was aware of the importance of strong and healthy families for a vibrant and healthy society. He said: “The family is the "first and vital cell of society". In its own way it is a living image and historical representation of the mystery of the Church. The future of the world and of the Church, therefore, passes through the family.” In this meeting we read about in today’s Gospel Jesus brought to that fearful and confused gathering a sense of peace, and likewise He brings peace to the homes of those who place Him at the center of their lives. As our saint for today, Saint Zeno, Patron of Fishermen, reminds us, we parents are called to be fishermen of our children, and a good place to begin is in sharing meals together. If we wish to reduce the social ills of society the best efforts would be spent on providing for healthy, stable marriages and families. So, what’s for dinner? Make a great day! 

Today we recall the good life, gifts, and work of Saint Zeno--Patron of Anglers.

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