Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,
heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,
bearing with one another and forgiving one another,
if one has a grievance against another;
as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.
And over all these put on love,
that is, the bond of perfection. (Col 3:12-14)
Today, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. This feast is probably one of the more “uncomfortable” feasts of the Church year.
Because it celebrates family.
For many people, “family” is hardly a reality. It may be nothing more than a word in a dictionary. There are people who claim that they have no family, even though they may have biological mothers or fathers, brothers or sisters. Unrest, rather than peace, may be more the reality for those people.
Others come from “fractured” families. They may feel somewhat at peace with their lives; yet, they experience a certain amount of angst because someone is missing, has been excluded, or has excluded oneself.
Still others have a hard time dealing with the idea of the Holy Family because they have been trying to be “family” themselves and, for one reason or another, cannot conceive children. They feel an emptiness and longing that cannot be filled.
In all of the messiness of our lives, then, we are asked to look at the Holy Family.
But, if we look hard, we begin to realize that, while they may have been intact, they were far from trouble-free. From the moment of Mary’s “yes” to God, her life — and Joseph’s life — was changed radically. Pregnant and unwed, Mary endured shame cast upon her from others. After their marriage, and before Jesus was born, they were forced to take an arduous trip to Bethlehem for a census. Options were so little upon arrival that they had to take shelter in a cave and stable used by shepherds. It was there that Jesus was born.
After Jesus’ birth, they had to hightail it to Egypt because they heard that Herod was trying to kill their Son. The threats to His life would continue until they finally killed Him, hanging Him on a tree.
Their lives were far from perfect.
What was perfect was their faith and trust in God.
Our lives are far from perfect. We face many perils, many unknown circumstance, many difficult choices.
In all of this, though, God is calling us, leading us, and guiding us if we but let Him do so. May God bless our families with peace and continue to guide us day by day!
FAITH ACTION: Let us pray for our families this day: our biological families, our extended families, our adoptive families, our parish families, and any other kind of “family” that we find ourselves in on a regular basis.