If I were to ask you if yours was a holy family, what would your response be? I suspect the vast majority of you would roll your eyes and say “my family? No Way!” It seems that every family has a “black sheep” or is dysfunctional in some way. Many families have secrets they prefer to keep in the closet about a living or deceased relative. Family life is not always easy! But, we can all help our families to be better, even if they cannot be perfect. And, let us not confuse perfection with holiness. One does not have to be “perfect” to be holy! Today’s feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph can give us some ideas of how to become of holy family.
The beginning of the Holy Family was not easy! The angels singing and the shepherds adoring sound great. But in a sense Mary and Joseph were “on the road.” They had to leave their current home to register for the census. There was no place in the inn when Mary’s time to deliver came. Many of you mothers can imagine what that was like. Even a motel today is not where you would want to give birth and a barn isn’t even imaginable! In spite of all the hardship Mary and Joseph experienced, they were outstanding parents. Think of Joseph listening to the angel in his dream and taking Mary and Jesus to Egypt to keep Jesus safe from Herod. Before they were merely “on the road,” but now they are refugees in another country. Even when they are able to return to their own country, Joseph still had to settle them in a different part of the country to be safe.
Our first reading tells us how God sets a father and mother over a family and how the children are to treat their parents – with honor. Our reading from Colossians spells that out for us. Because of Jesus we are God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved. That means that we must live in a special way as Jesus, Mary, and Joseph did. It means we must have compassion for one another and be kind, gentle, and patient with one another. Just as the Lord is forgiving of our faults, we must be forgiving of one another. But, most of all, we must be loving with one another. None of this is easy for sure, but it is necessary.
Something else is necessary as well. We must have gratitude in our hearts to God. Our mother and father gave us life or we would not even be here today. That in itself is a wonderful miracle of love and one that calls for gratitude.
Family life isn’t easy – but with a little more respect, kindness, patience and love, our families can become holier. Celebrate your family today and do so with gratitude for each member – even the one(s) who are a challenge to your patience!
Have a blessed Christmas season!