Readings: 1 Samuel 1:20-22,24-28; Colossians 3:12-17; Luke 2:41-52
When Pope Francis was at the Festival of Families in Philadelphia in September, he stated how, when the fullness of time had come for the Son of God to come, He didn’t come to a palace or a city or to start a business; He was born into a family. Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. In this, we see the importance of the family in God’s work/plan of salvation, in bearing the Good News, and in being a witness/sign of God’s love.
To be a “holy family” – What does this mean? Is it possible today? We might be tempted to look at our families and conclude it is definitely not a “holy” family. Yet in the end, a “holy” family is one that keeps striving to put God at the center, as did THE Holy Family. Our readings today have a lot to say about this.
With our passage from Colossians, we see that family life is to be wrapped up in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, peace, gratitude, love, and praise of God. Indeed, the family is a kind of ‘school’ for all these things. In the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we see that God (and obedience to Him) is at the center. Their family life is, directed toward a higher power/will, ordered to the desire of God, and placed in the hands of God/being about “the Father’s business.” In 1 Samuel, we encounter Hannah, who really wanted a son, but once she had him, trusted in God, and “Hannah left Samuel there” -to do God’s work.
With all 3 readings, we are reminded that our life—and our family life—is not our own. Our existence is a gift from God. We belong to Him, and we need to keep Him at the center and to help each other to do the same. To grow as a holy family doesn’t happen accidentally. We need to be intentional about it. I’d like to offer some suggestions for doing this:
+ Keeping the Eucharist as the core - making Mass attendance on Sundays and holy days a non-negotiable, as well as spending time as a family in Eucharistic Adoration on our first Tuesdays with Jesus and monthly IGNITE events
+ Praying and talking together as a family [a great resource for this is http://imagetrinity.com/LITGathering/LITGatheringGuide.pdf]
+ Celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation as a family; forgiving one another
+ Fostering openness to God’s voice/will (including the possibility of a religious vocation)
+ Gathering with other families to share and grow in faith and love of God together
With the new year upon us, through the grace of God perhaps now is a good time to resolve/recommit to striving to grow as a holy family.
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