The Feast of the Holy Family: Being a Holy Family
One proud grandma was showing off pictures of her grandchildren to a neighbor. "How old are they?" the neighbor asked. "The lawyer is two, and the doctor is four," the grandma replied.
We all have great ideals for our children. It is not that they need to become a lawyer or doctor to make us happy, but we do want them to grow up into the finest people they can be, using their potential, being happy in their lives.
If this is what we really want for our children, then like Joseph and Mary in the Temple, we must dedicate our treasures to the Lord. For our children to fulfill their potential they must find the reflection of God they were created to bring into the world.
Children must find the Lord not just in the Temple or the Church, they must find the Lord primarily in their families. This is the Feast of the Holy Family. It is a day when we consider the spiritual life of our families. We ask ourselves today, "Can all the members of our family find the Lord in our homes? Or are our homes merely houses?"
In the face of the allurements of our culture, we have to fight to have a home, and to have a family. So often homes are just filling stations and stopping off places. Many families count themselves blessed if they can have three meals together a week. This is not good. Children have to contribute to the family by being present just as parents have to contribute by supporting their children. It is important for children to develop their talents through sports, arts, etc; but it is more important for children to develop their love for God within their family.
Parents also have to get out of the mindset of making the fulfillment of their wants their priority. It is one thing for a person to go bowling an evening a week. It is another for a person to be home only a few evenings a week. Many families have broken up due to this mindset. The mindset would go like this: my wife or husband or the children fulfill my need to have a family, but they are only a part of a whole variety of desires that I have. This is not acceptable for a Christian. It leads to the situation of the spouse that wants his or her family or wife or husband, but also wants a private life and perhaps even someone on the side. That's just plain selfishness. Perhaps, when this person is present all seems loving and beautiful, but that is not family love. That is using others merely to fulfill one's own needs. I am sorry to say that we have many absent parents living under the same roof as their families.
Many of our families have suffered separation or divorce. These are still valid, strong, and Christian families. Some of these are much stronger than the families where both parents are present but hostile towards each other. The family with the single parent may not be ideal, but no family can be perfect. Just as the Holy Family had to find its way to reflect God in a hypocritical religious society, every family has to find its way to God in the situations life has occasioned. The only thing that matters is that your house, your apartment, is a Christian home.
Simeon predicted that a sword would pierce Mary's heart. A situation beyond the control of the Holy Family would bring pain to the family. That situation was the evil in the world that Jesus had come to destroy. Every family in the world has pain that has come into it which resulted from the basic evil of society. A child dies, alcohol or other drugs devastate relationships, all sorts of terrible things take place that pierce the heart of the family with a sword. The Holy Family survived because the God was present, not just God the Son who was the child, but God the Father around whom the life of the Holy Family revolved. All Christian families survive the same way.
A family cannot be spiritual for only a few hours on Sunday. The family must revolve around God who formed it. That is the way it can survive no matter what swords pierce its heart.
Today we pray that all our families may reverence and radiate the Presence of the Lord.