The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (C)
In his hope to learn and understand the situation of the homeless in London, Prince William, one of the sons of the late Princess Diana, spent a night in a cold alley in central London. From that experience he said, “I cannot, after one night, even begin to imagine what it must be like to sleep rough on London’s streets night after night…. Poverty, mental illness, drug and alcohol dependency and family breakdown cause people to become and then stay homeless” (Jennifer Quinn, Associated Press. Dec 22, 2009).
In one tourist island, where I worked for some time and where affluence is a very observable condition, I have seen so much disintegration of the human spirit and breakdown of families because of poverty, immorality, divorce, mental illness, and drug and alcohol dependency. Disappointment, despair and (even) wealth, are also factors to character and family breakdown.
Many people are plagued by different kinds of abuse: abuse of power and prohibited drugs, abuse of knowledge and technology, abuse of relationships and influence, abuse of convenience and affluence, etc. Media today can also indirectly or falsely influence families to accept, and many times cover up, issues and horrors of anti-life situations, like abortion, divorce, artificial contraception, homosexuality and encroachment on religious freedom, all in the name of aid and development. A worse situation that plagues our families today is people’s disregard for the existence of God and their indifference to the reality of sin.
On this Feast of the Holy Family, which we celebrate during the Christmas Season, St. Paul teaches us how to be happy in our families:
- Be kind and merciful. Kindness is the one virtue that attracts people to friendship. With kindness come heartfelt compassion, humility, gentleness, and patience. And these are gifts from the Lord.
- Forgive from your heart. St. Paul exhorts: bear with one another and forgive one another. When we have forgiveness in our hearts the peace of Christ will reign in our families. Then, conflicts in the family can easily be resolved, and there will be no wars in the world.
- Be grateful for everything and for everyone. There is nothing that we have that we can claim as our own, and nothing that others have that do not affect us. Everything on earth is gift, and there is no reason for anyone to abuse his capacities, retard his potentials or abuse relationships.
Furthermore, the Gospel teaches us the following:
- Know your priorities in life and abide by them. Even if Jesus had to remain in Jerusalem without His parents’ knowledge, He knew He had to do His Father’s business. Many people rejected affluence and power only to follow the call of God. When he discovered God’s call, Francis of Assisi, left his father and his great inheritance to dedicate his life to service of the poor and to a life of poverty for the sake of the Kingdom of God. Children’s primary responsibility is to obey their parents, and adults have to seek and follow God’s call, despite the possibility of rejection and opposition.
- In the midst of the storms in life and in moments of conflict, only Jesus and His Words can bring us back on our feet. In their anxiety because they lost Jesus, Mary and Joseph approached Him in the temple only to hear the words they did not understand, that He had to be in His Father’s house. God allows us to experience suffering and difficulties to strengthen us and to grant us wisdom in life.
An important situation to consider in the family is avoidance or control of explosions of anger, disgust and disappointment. Joseph and Mary must have felt bad that they lost Jesus: each one presumed that Jesus was with the other. But they did not explode at each other (for there are always two sides of a story, and Jesus had one). They understood that explosive anger would only hurt relationships and would lead to nowhere. So they went back to Jerusalem, and found Him. After another twenty one years, Mary would go back to Jerusalem to accompany Him on the way to the cross and lose Him, only to meet Him again on the third day and experience the great joy of His Resurrection.
- If we look for Jesus, we will find Him. Many times we seem to lose Jesus only to find Him in Church, or meet Him as on a Resurrection Sunday, or see Him in the joy of the family, or in responsibly performing our work, or in serving others. After all, what is important in this world is to find Jesus in our situations, and abiding by His commands.
With Mary and Joseph, let us continue to commit ourselves to celebrate Jesus in the Eucharist, and find Him wherever we are; and this is my prayer for you today: May God keep your families always united in Him and bring you peace and joy this coming New Year. May He make you instruments of compassion and forgiveness, and make you ever grateful for the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. And may you ever be mindful of His loving Presence in your families. Amen.