O God, You have chosen the apostles to make disciples of all nations and by baptism and confirmation have called all of us to build up Your Holy Church.
The Holy Family
hope you all had a wonderful celebrations with your families on Christmas Day. Some of us may feel that we had a long waiting for Christmas, but then everything ended very quickly.
In the Catholic Church, we continue the celebration of Christmas until the Feast of Baptism of Jesus. But during this time, we have many other celebrations, like Feast of Holy Family, Mary Mother of God, Feast of Epiphany, and Baptism of Jesus. We know all these feasts focus on coming together as a family.
Joseph and Mary went through a lot to give birth to Jesus and form a family. And today we celebrate the Feast of this Holy Family. We may wonder why so much focus on family. We all know a family is the basic unit of society, but the church also holds the family as the basic unit. This is the reason why church is against all that is a threat to family life. If the building blocks are strong, the building will be strong too. So the church is paying so much attention on family, because each family is a school of love.
All readings this weekend focus on this aspect—how we can transform our family into a Holy Family.
In the first reading, from the Book of Sirach, it says that children have to look after their parents. There we read, "Respect your parents, so that your prayers are answered; and you will have long life, And whoever obeys their mother, obeys the Lord."
The second reading gives us some practical guidelines about how to keep our family in harmony. "Forgive each other. Be patient. Be thankful." Only God can provide the grace for our families to be holy.
Still, we have to do everything in our power to give His Grace the opportunity to flow into our homes. Mothers and Fathers are to be respected by their children. Husbands and wives are to respect each other. Parents cannot allow their children to speak to them in a disrespectful way. This is not for the parents' sake, but for the good of the children.
Respect is not integral to human nature. Respect, like gratitude, has to be taught by parents and learned by children. I'm sure, on Christmas, you said many times to your children after they received a gift, "And what do you say?" I've met many adults who take the generosity of others for granted.
A holy family has to provide opportunities for the children to develop their relationship with God. I'm sure all of you say grace before meals. This might seem to be an ordinary practice, but it is not. It is extraordinary. It opens the children to recognize that all good things come from God.
Bedtime prayers are also very important. Through these prayers the children develop their personal relationship with God. They learn to talk to God, to pray for their families and for all who need their prayers.
By the way, when the children reach six or seven, it's a great idea for parents to incorporate an act of contrition into their child's bedtime prayers. This helps them learn to take responsibility for their actions as they ask forgiveness for anything they have done wrong during the day. And if a child can't think of anything they did wrong, I'm sure mom or dad can offer a few suggestions.
Sometimes people look at this Feast of the Holy Family and say, "Well, this is unrealistic. How can we be parents as good as St. Mary and St. Joseph, chosen by God?" Well, look at today's Gospel. Even the best of parents make mistakes. Each family has its own problems, but together we can make it a holy and happy family.
Lord Jesus, how little I reflect on the Incarnation, even during the Christmas season! Help me to be, ever more mindful that you dwell in my heart. Let me radiate your presence today, in my own family. Let them see your goodness reflected in my words and actions.