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The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

My dear encountered couples:

Holy Family Sunday! That is what we celebrate today. We are to honor and reflect upon the family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, and learn from it. We are to pray over and reflect upon our own families to see just where we stand in comparison. We are to try to open our eyes and see our families as they are, not as we might imagine or pretend them to be.

It is so easy to get caught up in the busy day-to-day reality of living together that we lose sight of both the purpose of a family and what kind of people our families are producing and sending out into the world. Are our families a benefit to the world, or a handicap? Do our children go forth to make the world a better place to live, or a worst one? Maybe only time will tell. But the odds of time telling us something we would like to hear are much better if we try to stay aware of just what is going on in our families.

How are we treating and affecting one another? Are we a support for, or an obstacle to, the growth of one another? Do we truly love one another and try to make one another happy, or is it selfishness and unconcern that we more often practice? Difficult questions, but Holy Family Sunday encourages us to try our best to answer them. And then act upon the enlightment that comes to us.

The ideal family is expected to consist of a group of persons related by marriage or blood and which typically includes a father a mother, and children. For the many who do not have all those members living under the same roof, or are not related by marriage or blood, but who are living together in a family situation, they too are included in this feast day that encourages all families to take stock of themselves and seek improvement.

The first thing for all of us to realize is that there is most likely no perfect family anywhere to be found on this planet. The family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph we call HOLY, but were they also perfect? You can ask them when you see them. But we can all live with the absolute assurance that none of our families are perfect. After all, you and I are in them, and God knows we aren’t perfect.

Families are to be growing grounds for the seeds of goodness God has put in us. Families are to be proving grounds that make evident how much we have grown in that goodness. If we think we love people outside our families, all we have to do is take a good look at how we are towards those in our own household. The measure of love we truly have for people we don’t live with is how we treat the people we do live with. Jesus said pretty much the same thing in regard to our love for God. We can discover how much we love God whom we cannot see by opening our eyes to the way we treat our fellow men and women we do see. Love must begin in the home or it will stand little chance of going anywhere else.

A good family environment is not only necessary for the growth and development of good qualities and morals in our children, it is necessary for the continuing development of adults. Husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, all of us can use the polishing and shaping and forming that comes from living with other people in a family situation. For it is not easy for us to get along with one another. To try to understand and forgive one another can be a real job. Since Cain killed his brother Abel, members of many, many families have been at each other’s throat.

There is spouse abuse, child abuse, parent abuse, even murders take place in families. And much of that abuse and murder is not only to the body, but to the spirit, to the mind, to the soul. Instead of supporting and encouraging one another to grow in the uniqueness God has put into us, we often criticize, discourage, smother and condemn anything different from ourselves. Instead of our homes being a refuge and a place where we can relax and be who and what we are, many of us live in stressful situations where we have to pretend to be somebody and something else. For the sake of peace many people live a lie and do not develop as God wills them to.

So as not to anger another member of the family we hesitate to discuss certain subjects, we don’t dare be honest about our likes, dislikes, and dreams. More people than we’d like to admit, especially the young, leave home in pursuit of a place and people who will listen to them, who will accept them, who will supply their need f or understanding and love. Many not only find themselves unwelcome in their families, a fortunate few there are who have fathers like the father of the prodigal son.

Family life is not easy. A holy family does not happen overnight. It takes much pain and sorrow and worry. It takes even more faith and trust in God. The family that tries to make it on its own, without God, is attempting a feat that not even angels can accomplish. It is not only praying together that keeps a family staying together; it is each person in the family helping God answer those prayers by putting in many years of working hard at it. It is the family whose members are open and understanding and patient and forgiving that sends into the world children which both parents and God can be proud of.

“Because you are God’s chosen ones,” writes St. Paul, “clothe yourselves with heartfelt mercy, with kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another; forgive one another. Forgive as the Lord has forgiven you. Over all these virtues put on love, which binds the rest together and makes them perfect.”

Is your family a perfect family? Is any family? We all would like the world to be one, big, happy, loving family. That will never happen until we all arrive at that goal right within the walls of our very own homes. JESUS, MARY, AND JOSEPH, PRAY FOR US!

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