Family holiness


Today is the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.  I like this feast day because it directs us to focus on the “Family”, and on ‘our family.’

We are all born into a family, we grow up with family (whether our birth family or other family), we remember and cherish our childhood adventures with family.  And we look forward to having our own family.

So did Jesus.  He was born into a simple, pious family.  He grew up submissive and obedient to Joseph and Mary, his parents.  We learn in Paul’s letter to the Colossians, 3:12-21, that as one of God’s chosen children, his family life inculcated in him “heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, living in the bond of love, that is the bond of perfection, with thanksgiving.”

Pope Francis tells us that the true joy which is experienced in the family is not something random and fortuitous. “It is a joy produced by deep harmony among people, which allows them to savor the beauty of being together, of supporting each other on life’s journey.”

He urges us to remember that this joy is rooted in the merciful grace of God.  He proclaims that the foundation of joy is anchored in the presence of God’s welcoming and patient love for us.  “If the door of the family is not open to the presence of God and to his love, then the family loses its harmony, individualism prevails, and joy is extinguished.”

We are all children of God, born into His family.  This is his gift to us and a work of his grace.  We did not ask for it, we did not earn it.  Our life is truly a gift from God.  However like any gift, we should receive it with joy, open it, and rejoice.  As the Anawim reflection puts it: we make room for Him by casting out from our hearts anything that is opposed to him, especially our own pride and selfishness.

Did we make room for Him in our hearts this Christmas season?   St. Luke says Mary treasured Jesus’ childhood and youth and that she “kept all these things in her heart.”

Do we keep the words and messages and miracles of Jesus in our heart?  How?  By reading the Bible every day.  By opening our ears and hearts to the homilies and talks of our spiritual guides.  By having an attitude of gratitude for the blessings that come our way each day.  By making our home a dwelling place for our Lord.  By treasuring the life of God in us.  By nourishing His love in our family.  By becoming a blessing to self and to others.  Not just this Christmas Season… but always!!!