HOW TO BE A FAMILYReflection for Holy Family FeastRev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.

Once upon a time, Mr. and Mrs. Edwards decided to adopt a girl to be a company to their only daughter Marissa since they could not have another child. Though their daughter initially accepted the idea, when the girl, who is about their daughter’s age, showed up, something unexpected happened.

Marissa was no longer excited when she discovered that her soon-to-be sister had a different skin color from hers, and she was looking a little bit untidy. She despised her and was very unwilling to welcome her to stay in her room.

The efforts of Mr. and Mrs. Edwards to make Marissa accept Jane as a sister met severe opposition. One day, Marissa was so mad at Jane for using her musical instruments, and when the parents instructed that she should be kind to her sister, she yelled back, saying, “Jane is not my sister and would never be one!” Hearing that, Jane ran to a corner to cry.

Marissa was still yelling when her parents looked at each other and started crying at the same. She was confused to see them holding each other and crying. Her mom mustered the courage to say, “Marissa, we wanted to tell you this all the time.” “What?” Marissa said impatiently, “your dad and I had a hard time having a child,” Mrs. Edward started. “We visited so many doctors and specialists without success. They all concluded that we could not have a child. We desperately wanted to have a child of our own, and so we adopted you from an orphanage when you were just three weeks, and we loved you like nothing till date”.

Marissa was speechless. She could not believe that he was adopted, recalling how Mr. and Mrs. Edwards have loved and treated her like their biological child. Marissa burst into tears and ran to look for Jane. Seeing Jane, she hugged her, saying, “I am so sorry for discriminating against you. Now I know that we do not have to be related to be family. I love you, my sister. For your information, I was also adopted, I just realized that today”.

We could learn from the story that we do not need to be biologically related to be a family. Family in God’s design and plan is beyond human blood. There is a higher dimension of connection that brings people together to a unified bond. Family is not just a collective noun; it is a progressive action among individuals having a common purpose.

The Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph as the Prototype Family
Family is a divine gift that reflects God’s very nature, a family of three divine persons. God was thinking about family when He saw that it was not good for the man to be alone (Gen. 2:18). God was thinking about family when He said, “be fruitful and multiply and fill the whole earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28).

When God decided to redeem humanity from the sin of the first human family, He came through the family of Joseph and Mary. Mary was conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit and not through the biological contribution of Joseph, yet Joseph, who comes from the tribe of Judah and the lineage of David, becomes the Father of Jesus. Like in the opening story, we do not need to be related by blood to become family. The Holy Family teaches us that family goes beyond blood relationship.

Friendship: The best family is where people share friendship. Friendship is foundational for the sustenance of any relationship, including marriages. People who marry their friends fare better than those who just married a man or woman.

F.A.M.I.L.Y makes a Family
The family stands here as an acronym with great relevance and meaning that would potentially enrich our minds and transform our relationships.

God values friendship, and that was why he could call Abraham his friend (Isaiah 41:8). In John’s Gospel (15:15), Jesus called the disciples friends because he told them everything he heard from the Father. Here, we understand that friendship entails knowing and understanding each other very well. You can be friendly, but not friends with a stranger.

Acceptance: Family is where people should be accepted and not shamefully judged. All fingers are not equal, and we see this very clearly in the family. W should not reject people because of their weaknesses, but they should be encouraged just like we do when a child learns how to walk with all the rising and falling.

Thinks about how God still opens His hand of acceptance despite our failures and mistakes, as we can see in the divine invitation of Isaiah (1:18). Family cannot function well when there is no acceptance. George Orwell says that happiness can exist only in acceptance.

Mercy: Family is not always sweet; there are times when we feel hurt, offended, and trashed. How do you react to these? Fight back or begin a war? The worst part of family wars is that they often never end until mercy takes a seat.

Mercy is a step ahead of forgiveness. It means being able to let go of the past and give help for the future. We all are living on account of God’s mercy, and our Lord Jesus Christ encouraged us to be merciful as our heavenly Father is merciful (Luke 6:36).

Interaction: The primary meaning of interaction is the exchange of action. In the family context, we think of gainful and positive communication that helps build and not destroy. Positive interaction would include helpful directions, encouragement, and constructive instructions, while negative interaction includes gossiping, blaming, shaming, and rash judgment. Positive interaction builds a family.

Love: Love is the heart of the family. Where true love exists, it is sacrificial, not transactional (John 15:13). One of the sins against love is loving because of what you would gain by loving or to love when it is convenient. Family cannot be effective without true love. Remember that love is not what you say; it is what you do.

Yield: To yield is to give another person a chance or an opportunity to do something or to have one’s way. St. Paul advised in the Letter to the Roman (12:10) that we yield to one another. Sometimes you need to yield to let peace reign. When you are wrong, apologize, but when you are right, keep quiet.

Moving Forward: Make Family Work
Family is what we make it to be. Everything about family depends on the contribution of every member of the family. St. Paul took the time to explore everyone’s functions in the family in the Letter to the Colossians (3:12-21). When everyone is at their best in wherever we find ourselves, we could build a family that reflects God’s purpose for family.

Your family could rise again. Do not allow the challenges surrounding your family the snatch away the blessings of God. Family is a good thing, so we should be careful about the devil’s destructive antics (2 Cor 2:11). The easiest way the devil could destroy the world is to destroy every family. Do not allow the destruction to start from yours. Save the family; save the world. God bless you.
Fr. Bonnie.

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