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Updated: Feb 17

CAN MY FAMILY BE HOLY? Feast of the Holy Family, Year B

  “Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to form a holy family.” These words can rightly be addressed to each couple on the day of marriage. If they were, many attending would shout out “Mission Impossible!” They would say this because of the many attacks on marriage and family life from some of the economic, cultural, social, and moral attitudes toward marriage. Also, many have a plastic image idea of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

            The Holy Family can be a model for family life because they were flesh and blood. We should not take away their humanness. The Son of God became fully human in Jesus, born of Mary, and raised in a family. That truth is at the heart of the Christmas mystery of the incarnation, which means the making into flesh of the Son of God. So to celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family and to draw inspiration from their example, we have to erase from our minds any plastic image idea of the Holy Family, and keep in mind the revealed truth that God’s eternal Son became a Son of Man, the Son of Mary.

            The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, according to the evidence of the scriptures, underwent many hardships, misunderstandings, tests and struggles from within and without like all families of flesh and blood. The qualities they gave witness to can help families of all ages, cultures and times.

            Families are” in the business” of producing human persons and forming bodies, minds, hearts, spirits and people who can live in relationship to other humans and the Divine Persons of the One God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Nothing can really substitute for a set of loving relationships in the fulfillment of this crucial and all important mission. Without the “right materials” families cannot fulfill their mission fully.

            For so great a mission of protecting and promoting the growth of human life, the Lord has given a living model in the Holy Family and the teachings of the Scriptures as guides. The Book of Sirach offers us an insight into God’s order for the holy or whole family. “The Lord sets a father in honor over his children.” There is a reward for one who honors his or her father. “He who reveres his father will live a long life…” Since people are living longer today, taking care of aging parents is an increasing responsibility for many adults. “My son, take care of your father when he is old; grieve him not as long as he lives…For kindness to a father will not be forgotten.”

            A person’s place in the family is a great challenge to become all that the relationship demands. Children can only carry out honor for a father who is honorable. A son can only bring comfort to a mother who obeys the Lord. “…he obeys the Lord, who brings comfort to his mother.”

            A father will go a long way in fulfilling his responsibilities toward his children by fulfilling his toward their mother. “The best thing a husband can do for his children is to love their mother.” The husband and wife relationship is a major teacher, for good or bad, for children. A father and mother who don’t take each other for granted, but grow in showing respect, concern, pride, trust, support and kindness toward each other, give their children what all the material things can’t. They give a model for living in loving relationship. Just as the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph used their persons to teach, so too do parents teach by their persons.

            The Colossian letter gives the needed qualities of a holy family. A holy family has a sense of being chosen and loved, and therefore the members treat each other in a forgiving, healing, accepting, and understanding way.

            A holy family is not a perfect or plastic family, but a faithful and loving family. To be faithful to each other the members have to be faithful to the Lord, listening and following the Lord, and responding to one another as best they can. As long as there is love and order in a family, a lot of imperfection is tolerated and accepted. A holy family is one like the Holy Family where people grow “in size and strength, filled with wisdom and the grace of God is upon” them!  Seek to be a holy family, not a perfect family!

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