Readings for December 30, 2018
Feast of the Holy Family
Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14 or 1 Samuel 1:20-22, 24-28
Psalm 128 or Psalm 84
Colossians 3:12-21 or 1 John 3:1-2, 21-24
The link between faith and family is central to the Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that family “is a community of faith, hope, and charity; it assumes singular importance in the Church” (CCC 2204). Because of this, and because of my simple yet powerful love for the two on their own, my faith and my family construct my world view. And through all of life’s struggles and pressures, I find peace by remaining grounded in these two things.
The Church’s Feast of the Holy Family, then, is a joyous feast for me, pointing to the worries and joys of family life and the divine purpose to which all of us are called. And, of course, it is always nice when my children to hear proclaimed in scripture, “God sets a father in honor over his children … take care of your father when he is old.” These words from Sirach 3 should be on a plaque hanging in my home!
In a broader sense, my home would also benefit from a plaque reminding us to follow the example of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, who model the interwoven relationship between family and faith. In the only gospel passages concerning Jesus’ upbringing, the family traveled to Jerusalem “each year … for the feast of Passover.” This was not a singular event, but part of the fabric of their lives and the practice of their faith. And doing so most assuredly led Jesus to grow “in wisdom and age and favor before God and man.”
But the model for family life goes beyond being perfect, or flawlessly practicing our faith as one unit, and even the holy family experienced normal family worries as well. For instance, we know that Jesus became inadvertently separated from his family by staying behind in the temple to listen and learn from the teachers and elders. Having no idea where Jesus had gone, this gave his parents a few things to worry about, and in prophetic significance to his final sacrifice, Mary and Joseph frantically searched for Jesus for “three days” before finding him in the temple. In response to his parents’ exacerbation in finding him, Jesus fulfills the words of Psalm 27, “I believe I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living” (v 13), mentioning to them that he would of course be found in his “Father’s house.”
Like Mary and Joseph, I am prone to worrying, especially about my children. I like to know where they are, that they are safe, and that they are making good choices. But like Jesus reminded his parents, the answer to my worries can be found in my faith, and by returning to church. When in doubt, I find that my family life benefits from an extra dose of faith and time spent in church, and equally, my faith can benefit from an extra dose of family and time spent together. So with honor, care, stability, wisdom, and a good bit of pondering, I draw the strength to fight through life’s distractions and society’s woes and focus on the “singular importance” of how my family life reflects my faith and vice versa. Doing so, I can live as St. Paul has written, letting the peace and love of Christ to which I am called control my heart.
Lord Jesus, your humility and fidelity to life within your human family teach me how I must live out my faith in all circumstances. May I forever ponder your Word in my heart, growing in wisdom and favor before God. Amen