Feast of the Holy Family

Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14, Colossians 3:12-21, Luke 2: 22-40

Sam called his wife and said to her in a weak voice, “Hey baby, I was driving to a coffee shop to meet Mary when all of a sudden, a stray dog came in the way. I tried to steer left to avoid running it down, but the car skidded due to high speed, rolled over and almost ran off the cliff. The car was hanging nose down over the cliff, as I looked down fearing impending death. I just managed to climb out of the car and save my life, just before the car fell over the cliff crashing thousands of feet below and was blown into smithereens.” Sam continued, “I was taken to a hospital. I have a broken leg, broken jaw, dislocated shoulder and several injuries on my head.” There was silence on the phone, then the wife asked, “Who is Mary?”

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. There are many attempts to destroy the family in our times and if the family will be destroyed in western society, the western world will crumble because all humanity comes through the family. There are many attempts today to redefine the family but they do not reflect God’s plan for the family.

Is our family fulfilling God’s plan for our family? We desire our families to be the best possible families for our children so that they may get the best possible start in life. It is important to reflect on how our family fulfils God’s plan because the family we grow up in influences us for the rest of our lives. When families reflect God’s plan they are mighty.

What is God’s plan for the family? Jesus tells us that a man and woman become one flesh and what God has united man must not divide. The Letter to the Ephesians reveals much to us about God’s plan for the family. Husbands are to love their wives just as Christ loves the Church; in fact their love is to be a reflection of Christ’s love for the Church. Children are to be obedient to their parents. The Letter to the Colossians reminds us to put the message of Christ in the center of our homes and lives.

Speaking of family life; there is no carefree family life.  As much as we would like it to be so, there are always pressures, always dangers, always issues that complicate and make family life difficult. Each of us in our own family must deal with our own challenges and pressures—economic troubles, problems at work, misunderstanding and tensions with our in-laws,   complications that come from the natural growth process as our children make their way through adolescence.  There are always difficulties that press in upon us and complicate our families.  These cares are a part of life.

But those cares get to us; they wear us down.  As much as we would like to be up and always handle those difficulties with ease, they undermine our ability to be loving, patient and kind.  So we lose our patience; we say things that we regret; we act in ways that are not the best; we talk back to our parents; we overreact with our children; we are insensitive to our spouses and to those with whom we share life. The cares of life get to us.

In those moments do not forget to add love.  We will not always be able to avoid the insensitivities and the mistakes of family life.  But what we can do when we have an opportunity is remind the people in our family that we love them.

As we read the Scriptures we see that God has revealed a great deal to us about his plan for the 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. Remember these three simple points of family life: There is no carefree family life; The cares will get to us; Do not forget to add love.  In fact, add some love today.