Feast of the Holy Family

“My family is just like a nation,” Mr. Brown told his colleague. “My wife is the minister of finance, my mother-in-law is the minister of war, and my daughter is foreign secretary.” Sounds interesting,” his colleague replied. “And what is your position?” “I’m the people. All I do is pay.”

Husband: every time I hit you, you never fight back. how do you manage your anger? Wife: I clean the toilet seat…. Husband: How does it help? Wife: I use your toothbrush!!!! After listening to this joke I don’t know how many of you are going to check your toothbrush tomorrow morning!

Dear friends! Christmas is a family time. Families have re-united once again. During this time when families have the grace and privilege to spend much time together, to enjoy each other’s company, to relax together, to have special family meals together, let us thank God for all the graces and blessings our families enjoy and let us also ask God to bless our families and help our families continue to grow to become what they are called to be.

It is fitting that during this family time every year we reflect on The Holy Family of Nazareth, Jesus, Mary and Joseph. We call it “The Holy Family” because it was the most holy of families: Mary was immaculately conceived and was sinless all her life and conceived Jesus of the Holy Spirit. Joseph was her chaste spouse. Jesus was the Son of God. Yet in our Gospel we see a moment of tension in The Holy Family as Jesus is lost and found again in the Temple. 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 was a family with special grace but yet a family with trials. What we find in this holy family is that along with all the incidents of love and joy with birth of Jesus, there are clearly other incidents that involve trouble and pain. In these stories, we hear of a wicked king, who slaughters innocent children. We see Mary and Joseph flee to Egypt to protect the newly born child. We hear a prophecy which says that a sword of sorrow will pierce Mary’s heart. In today’s Gospel, we see the parents of Jesus in great anxiety, searching Jerusalem for three days to find their lost son.

What these stories are telling us is that wherever we have people, we will also have stress and difficulty. Wherever we have relationships, along with the love and joy, there will also be difficulty and pain. Wherever we have family, you can be sure that a cross of one kind or another will be close at hand.

No family is perfect but every family is holy. We must appreciate both parts of this statement if we are to understand the meaning of today’s feast, The Feast of the Holy Family. No family is perfect. Family life is often a challenge and sometimes a burden. This was even true of Jesus’ family. Look at the mess that they made on their family vacation to Jerusalem. Misunderstanding, harsh words, anxiety, characterized the trip. It is no different in our families. It does not take us long to become involved in hurt, misunderstanding, and stress. Our families are challenged by divorce, by heartbreak, by envy. Simply looking at the relationships in which we live reminds us that flaws are present. We often wish that things could be different. No family is perfect.

But every family is holy. This is the harder part of the sentence to appreciate, but it is true. Every family is holy because God dwells in every family. Where God is present, there is holiness. God calls us to live in family. Because of that call it is in family that we discover God’s will and that we encounter God’s presence. As we proceed in this Eucharist to the table of the Lord, it is important to embrace both the imperfections and the holiness of our families and to realize that one does not negate the other.

No matter what kind of flaws we experience in our relationships of family, family is still the place where God dwells. 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. It is good to 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