Family Is Everything

26 Dec

“The family is the first essential cell of human society.”  ~ Pope John XXIII

A sarcastic quip often describes people’s thoughts about family:  “Family.  Can’t live with them.  Can’t live without them.”  We chuckle when we hear phrases like that but, at the same time, we often see a glimpse of truth to that.  Families can be wonderful blessings.  Families can also be sources of great stress.  Sometimes the stress comes from within and other times the stress comes from without.

The Holy Family is often portrayed as a peaceful, loving, perfect family.  While that is all true, that doesn’t mean the Holy Family didn’t have problems.  It began before Jesus’ birth.  Before Joseph and Mary were married, Mary was found to be with child as she had conceived the Son of God.  Joseph had no clear knowledge of that and decided that he was going to divorce Mary quietly and get on with his own life.  In a dream, Joseph found out the truth of Mary’s pregnancy and was asked to take Mary as his wife and to raise the child, Jesus.

Then, shortly after Jesus was born, King Herod heard from the Magi that a new king was born in his territory.  Herod became determined to find the child and kill him.  He was not going to allow any threat to his throne.  Thus, while very young, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph had to flee their homeland and take refuge in Egypt.

When Jesus was twelve, there was a bit of panic in the family when Mary and Joseph realized that Jesus was not among them as they were on their way home from Jerusalem.  They backtracked and found Jesus in the temple speaking to the teachers.  While the holy leaders were all impressed with Jesus’ faith and knowledge, Mary and Joseph were stressed because Jesus had elected on His own to remain behind.

After Jesus became a Rabbi, there was talk that many wanted Him dead.  One can only imagine the stress upon Jesus’ family when that was discovered.  The Holy Family was dedicated to one another and to God but that did not preserve them from stressful times.

Today, the day after Christmas, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.  We might try to compare our families to the perfect family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph and find ourselves coming up far short.  However, we may have forgotten about the stressors that the Holy Family went through as well.  What made the Holy Family holy was their ultimate trust in God and their willingness to accept God’s will for them.

Our families may not be perfect.  Our families may be far from perfect.  Our families may even be poster-families for Dysfunction Monthly.  That’s okay.  Each and every member of our family was made in the image and likeness of God and God loves each member of the family as much as the next.  He loves the family unit as well.

Maybe it’s time for us to love our families as much as God loves us, to trust God completely, and to accept God’s will for us.  It might not be easy.  It might be very stressful.  But God fashioned us and He will sustain us if we ask Him to be a part of our families.

FAITH ACTION:  Pray for all families, especially those who may be experiencing troubles, that the peace and love of the Holy Family may guide them into closer union with one another and with God.