“The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.” ~ Burton Hills
One of the popular Christmas songs of old tells us that Christmas is “the most wonderful time of the year.” For many, it is. For others, though, Christmas can be a source of great tension and conflict. That tension and conflict center around one particular word: family.
Not all families are ideal. Some families are torn with strife and division. Some family members cannot even stand to be around one another. Gathering at holidays can bring a whole new level of stress to these people.
Today, in the midst of the Octave of Christmas, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Not only can home be a source of tension, when you leave home and come to church, we celebrate the Holy Family. When we talk about the ideals of the Holy Family, we might think even more poorly about ourselves and any fractured family situations in which we may live.
If you feel that way, just remember that we call today’s feast the Holy Family, not the ideal family. Because even the Holy Family had problems. The first stressor would have been before the family even existed, when Mary was found pregnant through the Holy Spirit. The second stressor was when Mary and Joseph had to go to Bethlehem for a census, even though Jesus was ready to be born. In Bethlehem, they were turned away from any inn that could have housed them for all were full due to the census.
Jesus was born in a stable. Far from the ideal place for a birth. Shortly after His birthday, the family found itself hightailing it out of the country because Herod wanted Jesus dead. Later in his life, Mary would have heard about all the threats to her Son and would stand at the foot of His cross. Hardly an “ideal” family. But definitely a holy family for, throughout it all, they kept faith with the Father.
Our families may be far from perfect. They may cause us tension and grief. But our families, too, can be holy if we entrust ourselves to the love of God and ask Him to come into our lives.
FAITH ACTION: Do something to celebrate family today and pray for families that are fractured.