This story would touch your heart. A son takes his old father to a restaurant for an evening dinner. The father being very old and weak, would drop food on his shirt and trousers while eating. Other diners watch in disgust, but his son remains calm and continues to assist him. After the dinner, the son takes his old dad to the bathroom, wipes the food particles, removes the stains, combs his hair and fits his spectacles.
As they come out from the bathroom, the people in the restaurant watch them in silence, unable to understand how the young man could contain the public embarrassment. The son settles the bill and as they walk out of the restaurant an old man calls out to the son and says to him, “don’t you think you have left something behind?” The son replied, “No sir, I haven’t.” The old man replies and exclaims, “Yes, you have! You left a lesson for every son and hope for every father.” The boy replies and says to him “I just switched places with my dad, I was like him as a messy little kid many years ago in this same restaurant.” The restaurant goes into dead silence with obvious lessons learned; we often receive what we give especially to the family.
The family is God’s special gift to us. Ideally, the family began at the moment God thought that it was not good for the man to be alone and proceeded to give him a helper as a partner in the person of Eve (Gen. 2:18-24). Furthermore, the foremost divine blessing upon marriage is fruitfulness, “God blessed them, and God said to them, be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it…” (Gen. 1:28). It will be very fitting for us to indicate that fruitfulness is not restricted to childbearing. It also includes bearing good fruits like love that could fill the world and subdue it.
The family is the basic unit of human society, and there is no life without the family. To demonstrate the importance of family, God decided to come to us through the young family of Mary and Joseph where the word took flesh and dwelt among us full of grace and truth (John 1:14).
Family Is Anything We Make Of It!
The family is a full package that we need to accept with love, faith, and hope. On the average, everything happens in the family, the good, the bad, and the ugly. From the story of Hannah, we learn about the challenge of childlessness. Hannah did not give up as she poured out her tears to God in the temple asking for a son whom she promised that she would give back to God.
In the Gospel today (Luke 2:41-52), Joseph and Mary could not find the boy Jesus among their relations after two days of leaving Jerusalem to their home in Nazareth. It couldn’t have been an easy search for the twelve-year-old Jesus whom they eventually saw in the temple instructing notable teachers.
A family is a place we share love, laugh, express joy. A family is also a place we sometimes cry and mourn especially when a loved one gets sick and dies. Sometimes we experience anger and hurt in the family. I have seen people who regret being members of their respective families. But we don’t choose our families. It is God’s gift to us, and we can only make the best out of it.
In the Second Reading today (Col.3:12-17), St. Paul presents an extensive discourse on some desirable family virtues which includes, holiness, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, forbearance, forgiveness and above all love which binds all together under Christ. In his instruction, he called on the different segments that make up the family to work toward integration and progress. Wives are to be subject to their husbands; husbands should love their wives eschewing harshness and children should obey their parents while parents, in turn, should not provoke the children lest they become discouraged.
Moving Forward And Making Your Family Holy
The perfect family is not the family without problems and difficulties. The ideal family is not the one without need; not the affluent. There is no perfect family, but every family could strive to be holy by being attentive to the example of the Holy Family of Nazareth.
Holiness means walking in God’s way which also implies obedience to God by observing His precepts (Joshua 1:7). Obedience to God starts from the love and respect members of the family have for each other. Obedience may not happen without humility which entails selfless service to others; in fact, self-centeredness is antithetical to holiness following the model of Jesus Christ (Phil. 2:3-7).
Moving forward in the family cannot happen without love. Love is what we give without expecting a reward; in fact, the reward for love is to love more without conditions. When we genuinely love, we complement each other instead of competing with each other. Love helps us to let go, and let God, love helps us to forgive and to give. When we stop loving in the family, we start losing.
Having a place to go is home, having someone to love is a family and having both is a blessing. Hallowed be your family and may the coming year bring the abundant blessings of Psalm 128 to your home. Happy feast of the Holy Family.