Dear Friends! At this time of year when families are re-united again and as we celebrate The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, we reflect on what it is to be a family. The family is the basic unit of society and the Church. It is in the family that we first learn to communicate, and that we learn what is good and bad. It is in the family that we learn what love is because it is in the family that we first receive love. It is in the family that we first learn to forgive and to pray. It is in the family that we first learn about God and Jesus and Our Lady. It is in the family that we learn to value ourselves and to value everything else, picking up our values from what is said and unsaid by our parents. Our family forms us for many years to come.
The future of humanity depends on the family because it is through a family that we all come. But the changes that have taken place in our society in the last thirty years do pose a great threat to the family. For many young people today marriage is not even considered as an option, it has become so devalued by widespread divorce that the ceremony itself has become meaningless to them. Our society has become so preoccupied with rights of this group and that group that the basic building block of society has taken a severe battering and is not regarded even officially as a norm within society.
There are many attempts today to redefine the family but they do not reflect God’s plan for the family. It is very important that you take some time this week and discuss every aspect your family.
Today we celebrate The Holy Family, Jesus, Mary and Joseph. When the Father sent Jesus to us to reveal his love and to show us the way to him, Jesus did not fall out of heaven as a fully-grown adult. Jesus came as a member of a family, The Holy Family of Nazareth. God chose a family to show us how all families are to find their way to him. We pray that our families fulfill God’s plan because that is the only way to be happy families.
The Holy Family was a family with special graces but yet a family with trials. Every family has particular graces and blessings and every family also has difficulties and crosses. In our Gospel today, we see a moment of tension in The Holy Family as Jesus is lost and found again in the Temple. Like Jesus on the cross who asked, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” and did not receive a reply from his Father, Mary asks Jesus “why have you done this to us?” and Jesus’ reply does not seem to take account of her pain or that of Joseph, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s affairs?”
And then Luke goes on to write that Mary and Joseph did not know what Jesus meant. And sometimes our families too do not understand why we have a particular cross to carry and like Mary we ask, “Why did you do this to us?” And as in the case of Mary there is no satisfactory answer but with faith we continue to live the Christian life, to be about our Father’s affairs because no other way will bring true or lasting peace and happiness.
The Holy Family is a model for families because despite their many trials, and there were many as know from reading the Gospels, the family remained faithful, loving and united. Let us pray today to the Holy Family, to Jesus, Mary and Joseph, asking them to help our families persevere through their trials just as The Holy Family persevered.