Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14, Colossians 3:12-21, Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23

A little girl asked her father, “How did the human race come about?”  The father answered, “God made Adam and Eve and they had children and so all mankind was made.”  Two days later she asks her mother the same question. The mother answered, “Many years ago there were monkeys, and we developed from them.” The confused girl returns to her father and says: “Dad, how is it possible that you told me that the human race was created by God and Mom says we developed from monkeys?” The Father answers, “That’s simple, honey. I told you about the origin of my side of the family, and your mother told you about her side.”

Dear friends! On the last Sunday of the year, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. When a man and woman join together in the sacrament of Holy Matrimony they all want their family to be holy, joyful, and full of love and peace. That’s the intension of God as well. Today I don’t want to list the rules and regulations of a happy family. But how can a family fulfill God’s will in spite of difficulties and struggles of life!

Family problems come in all shapes and sizes these days. It has been a rough year. Dad lost his job a year ago; finding a new one has been a full-time occupation. Mom has taken on a number of part-time jobs while being a full time mother to their two daughters. The girls have been terrific, helping out in whatever ways they can. Dad was finally offered a position in another city several hundred miles away. They had no choice but to pull up stakes and start over: selling their old house and finding a new one, arranging for schools, packing up, and saying good-bye. That first night together in their new house, surrounded by their life in packing boxes, they sat on the floor and ate Chinese takeout. And they realized not what they had lost but what they had in each other: a home

We come across many people who find it hard to share their struggles. There is no easy way to begin that “talk” with your preteen child, that confrontation with a teenage son or daughter about abusing alcohol or some other substance, that decision regarding an elderly parent’s care.

There is no such thing as the perfect family. Every family is unique with its own combination of strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes families get overwhelmed by what seems like an endless list of challenges when it comes to juggling work, school and individual family members’ needs. And sometimes families are blindsided by a huge upheaval such as a mental or physical illness, a job loss, business loss or an addiction. Even “joyful” events such as a wedding, a job promotion, or a financial windfall can disrupt a family with unexpected consequences.

The financial, physical and emotional circumstances some of us face in our lives as spouses and families force to “flee” to our own Egypts.  In spite of all these difficulties how can we live our life as God wants? Holy Mother Church wants us to look up to the Holy Family of Nazareth, Jesus, Mary and Joseph this weekend as a model for our families. We call them “The Holy Family” but that does not mean that they did not have problems. Just as every family has to face problems and overcome them, or to put it another way, has to carry a cross, so also The Holy Family had to carry crosses.

Their many crosses come to mind as we read the Scriptures. As is clear from Matthew’s gospel, Mary, Joseph, and the Child’s struggle as a family was filled with heartache, fear, misunderstanding, and doubt – but together they created a family of love and compassion, of nurture and acceptance. What kept The Holy Family together and sane throughout all of these trials and crosses? The answer is ‘Love for each other and God’. Jesus’ love for Mary and Mary’s love for Jesus, and the love of both of them for God the Father. What holds our families together also in times of difficulty, is love and forgiveness.

Today, just as the holy family survived all its crises through love for each other and faith in God, let us pray during this Mass that our families will conquer all difficulties through love for each other and faith in God.