The Family is under siege today, with breakdown common. So we might listen to the wise advice for parents and children in the first reading, to practice mutual respect, love and kindness. As Paul says, let the message of Christ in all its richness find a place in our homes. Like the Holy family may we endure all hardship and be bonded in unbreakable love. And this holy season lets confess and work to heal any family divisions..
Last Christmas abused children and battered wives flooded helplines. Violence, abuse, loneliness dominated these calls. Alcohol was a major factor in a great many cases. Not a very good ad for our family life, or our sense of what matters at Christmas, peace and good will. Add to this a huge increase in family breakdown in our society and the picture seems depressing. So is there any point in the Holy family feast? Certainly not, if our image of Jesus Mary and Joseph is of a no-problem family. But that’s far from true. They were poor. After travelling to Bethlehem, they were shut out of the inn. Jesus was born in a stable. They fled from Herod across the desert with scant food and danger everywhere. Then they were refugees in a strange land, threatened, excluded. Nor is Luke’s account of the teenage Jesus free from rebellion. When his parents found him in the temple, he said: “I must be about my father’s business”. Yet he submitted to them and grew in age and grace before God and man.
Indeed, Jesus spent 90% of his life eking out a living with Joseph and Mary in an obscure village. Could God have affirmed the value of family life more? And if that family had plenty of trials, it drew them closer together rather than pushed them apart. And that’s the message of the feast. They’re the family who hangs in there, prays together, stays together, defying all difficulty, building home life in the love of God and each other. For love’s a conscious decision to keep loving no matter what.
Sure its more difficult today, but its still doable. A huge number of families are getting it right: by the grace of God remaining true to Christian principles of love, faithfulness and non-violence; sacrificing the pub and personal ambition to be together; and working for each other and their children’s good in an atmosphere of affection, trust and peace. Its not easy building such a family but the alternative is unthinkable – social disintegration, reversion to irresponsible selfish individualism. The ones who usually suffer most in that scenario are the most precious beings of society, children. They need, deserve, the love and security of a father and mother who are together and there for them. They need a nurturing caring home so that they too can grow “in age and grace before God and man”.
The holy family was a real family. They stayed together through adversity. No less is expected of families today, two-parent, single or otherwise. To create loving caring and stable homes where children can grow in age and grace like Christ. For worldly lust passes but Jesus is lord of faithful enduring love and care both for our happiness in this world and forever and ever, amen. So gathered here as God’s larger family the church, and praying for all our precious families before our father and the holy family in heaven, we make our profession of faith..
Prayers of the Faithful
For the Pope, the Holy Father of God’s people, that he and all the local bishops and fathers who pastor God’s family the church may do so with the love, care and diligence of Christ himself.
For our leaders in public life and government that they may promote and support family life by their laws and rule, and so bring about a healthy and nurturing society..
For our youth that they may enjoy good life-giving family life and also be true to the their larger family in God, the church..
For ourselves in our own families and homes, that we may love and nurture equally all our family, feed, clothe, nurse and educate and bring them up in age grace and truth before God and man..
For husbands and wives especially those in endangered marriages, may they continue to grow in the love that first brought them together until they’re one forever in their final heavenly home..
For our aged sick or lonely relatives, friends and neighbors that we may reach out to them in familial love and care and so bring to them the love of God..
For the dead members of our families that they may, with our prayers, come to their heavenly home where we will be reunited with them one day..
And we ask all these prayers through Christ our lord who spent most of his life in a humble family home….
The popular Christmas movie, the Wizard of Oz has as its final motif, “there’s no place like home”. After her adventures, Lucy is happy to come home to family life and those who love her. Certainly, as the saying goes, a good home is where the heart is. Love flourishes there and is nourished every day; no one lacks a hug, a kiss or a shoulder to cry on. Lets pray to our Mother Mary, who was the perfect mother, and Joseph the most caring of fathers, that they may fill our homes with such nurturing peace and love, for that is where the heart is..Hail Mary.