There is no such thing as a perfect family. In fact, probably some of the most imperfect groups we will ever experience are families, including our own. Of course, we want the best for our families, we want harmony and cooperation. Achieving this is not easy because family life involves a complicated set of relationships that regularly present us with challenges.
On this last day of 2017, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. Calling Jesus, Mary and Joseph a Holy Family does not mean they were a challenge free family. The Gospel story about Jesus being lost for several hours is testimony to that (Luke 2:22-40). Mom thought he was with Dad. Dad thought he was with Mom. In fact, he was in the most unlikely of places. This twelve-year-old boy was found in the temple, preaching to a very sophisticated gathering of adult religious leaders. Talk about challenges! With this and the many challenges they faced, Jesus, Mary and Joseph had to do what all families need to do. St. Paul sums up what this is when he says, “Bear with one another (Colossians 3:12-21)”.
Bearing with one another means giving up the fantasy that the perfect family exists. It means when things are not going well, the family is not necessarily falling apart. Most importantly, bearing with one another means remembering that all family members are human beings who make mistakes, misunderstand each other, are sometimes selfish and can be overly sensitive. Family members also deeply want to be loved, are capable of loving, need to be patient and to show patience.
Bearing with one another means when Mom and Dad make a rule, they are not trying to make life miserable for the kids. When the kids have another point of view, it is not an act of rejection. It means thinking twice before saying always, never, ever. When there are battles, someone has got to make the first move to seek forgiveness or forgive. The greatest pain and deepest joy we experience in life will most likely happen within our families. If we bear with one another like Jesus, Mary and Joseph did, our families, in the joys and sorrows, will surely reflect the love of God. May we all bear with one another in the New Year ahead!
Together in faith,
Very Rev. Christopher Smith, Rector