Of all the relationships in our lives, among the most powerful and influential are those of the family. We carry within us the experience of being members of our families throughout life. For some, that experience is mostly positive, for others it is largely negative, for most of us, it is a combination of both. The Feast of the Holy Family reminds us of the human families of which we are all a part. This feast provides us an opportunity to think about some specific characteristics of family life that are called for from a perspective of Catholic faith.
Catholic families are to live under God’s rule. Our example is Joseph, who traveled all the way to Egypt with Mary and Jesus instead of going directly back home (Matthew 2:13-23). He did this trusting in the message of an angel who said such a detour was necessary for the safety of his family. Family decisions are often complicated. Even though we cannot always know the outcome, following God’s rule means seeking God’s help and counsel as part of making decisions.
Catholic families are to remember that each member is God’s beloved (Colossians 3:12-21). It happens sadly that at times families are places of conflict and turmoil. As God’s beloved, we are called to treat each other with kindness and respect. Even though sometimes we may feel otherwise, families are to be places of affirmation and encouragement. Every so often it could be helpful to simply listen to the sounds within our households. Are they sounds we would want to come home to? Forgiveness is to be an essential characteristic of our Catholic families. Yes, some element of disagreement is a normal part of family life. Unfortunately, however, the hurt that families sometimes cause each other goes far beyond disagreement. Families are to be places of reconciliation where apologies are not the exception and forgiveness is the norm.
Family life, sometimes a great challenge, sometimes a great joy. All the time, Jesus, Mary and Joseph are there to help us know we are God’s beloved.
Together in faith,
The Very Rev. Christopher Smith, rector