THE HOLY FAMILY, A MODEL FOR EVERY FAMILY
A frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law, and four-year old grandson. The old man’s hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred, and his step faltered. The family ate together at the table, but the elderly grandfather’s shaky hands and failing sight made eating difficult. Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor. When he grasped the glass, milk spilled on the tablecloth. The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess. “We must do something about Grandfather,” said the son. “I’ve had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor.” Therefore, the husband and wife set a small table in the corner. There, Grandfather ate alone while the rest of the family enjoyed dinner. Since grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl. When the family glanced in Grandfather’s direction, sometimes he had a tear in his eye as he sat alone. Still, the only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled food. The four-year-old watched it all in silence. One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor. He asked the child sweetly, “What are you making?” Just as sweetly, the boy responded, “Oh, I am making a little bowl for you and Mama to eat your food in when I grow up.” The four-year-old smiled and went back to work. The words so struck the parents that they were speechless. Though no word was spoken, both knew what must be done. That evening the husband took Grandfather’s hand and gently led him back to the family table. For the remainder of his days, he ate every meal with the family. And for some reason, neither husband nor wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped, milk spilled, or the tablecloth soiled.
2. A box full of kisses
– Author Unknown
The story goes that some time ago, a man punished his 3-year-old daughter for wasting a roll of gold wrapping paper. Money was tight and he became infuriated when the child tried to decorate a box to put under the Christmas tree. Nevertheless, the little girl brought the gift to her father the next morning and said, “This is for you, Daddy.”
The man was embarrassed by his earlier overreaction, but his anger flared again when he found out the box was empty. He yelled at her, stating, “Don’t you know, when you give someone a present, there is supposed to be something inside? The little girl looked up at him with tears in her eyes and cried, “Oh, Daddy, it’s not empty at all. I blew kisses into the box. They’re all for you, Daddy.”
The father was crushed. He put his arms around his little girl, and he begged for her forgiveness.
Only a short time later, an accident took the life of the child. It is also told that her father kept that gold box by his bed for many years and, whenever he was discouraged, he would take out an imaginary kiss and remember the love of the child who had put it there.
In a very real sense, each one of us, as humans beings, have been given a gold container filled with unconditional love and kisses… from our children, family members, friends, and God. There is simply no other possession, anyone could hold, more precious than this.
Nothing is more precious than the beauty of a child’s perception. Please consider sharing this short story with loved ones. Thank you.
3. A HUSBAND AND WIFE HAVE BEEN LIVING TOGETHER FOR 30 YEARS…
A husband and wife have been living together for 30 years. On the 30th anniversary of their marriage the wife, as usual, has baked the bun – she baked it every morning, it was a tradition. During the breakfast she cut it across, buttered both sides, and, as usual, gave the top to the husband, but her hand stopped halfway…
She thought: “On the day of our 30th anniversary I want to eat this rosy part of the bun; I was dreaming about this for 30 years. Finally, I was an exemplary wife for 30 years and I raised good sons for him. I put so much efforts and health for the well-being of our family.”
So she made a decision and gave the bottom of the bun to her husband, but her hands trembled – breaking the 30-year-old tradition! Her husband took the bun and said to her:
-What a wonderful gift you gave me today, my dear! 30 years I did not eat my favourite –bottom- part of the bun, because I thought that it rightfully belongs to you.
4. TWO FAMILIES LIVED NEARBY…
Two families lived nearby. One family had constant quarrels and the other one lived quietly and friendly.
One day, feeling jealous about nice atmosphere flourished in the neighbouring family, wife told her husband:
– Go to the neighbours and look what they are doing for such well-being.
The husband came, hid and started watching. He saw a woman who was wiping the floor in the room. Suddenly something distracted her, and she ran to the kitchen. At that time her husband rushed into the room. He did not notice the bucket of water, occasionally kicked it, so the water overflowed.
Then his wife came back from the kitchen and said him:
– I’m sorry, honey, it’s my fault because I did not remove the bucket from the pass.
– No, I ‘m sorry, honey, it’s my fault, because I did not notice it.
The man returned home, where the wife asked him:
– Did you understand the reason of their well-being?
– I guess that I did. You see, we always seek to be right, while each of them takes the blame on himself.
Today being the Feast of the Holy Family we are all invited to take some time to reflect on the nature and drive of faith within our families. The family remains the basic unit of the human society as well as our early learning centre. Just like we say that charity begins at home so are also other things that are evil. Faith or fear; trust or distrust are all elements that have roots in the family. The way and manner a family is committed to God in faith determines what they get and how their life would run its course.
Many families in the world today are facing a lot of challenges. These challenges come in various ways, shapes and sizes. Some families have been divided into several pieces on account of these challenges because oftentimes people face the wrong direction when problems come upon them. The truth we must accept is that there is no perfect family in the world. There is also no family without one form of trial or the other; of course without a test of our faith there would not be a testimony.
Abraham and Sarah had their own period of family agony when no child was forth-coming in spite of the promises of God to Abraham which included but not restricted to making him the father of a great nation. They were not discouraged, they continued to wait and trust in God with faith. Unlike many of us today who would run to some worthless directions for assistance. Mary and Joseph had their times of trials but they kept their faith in God alive. When they had nowhere to stay for the birth of their child God provided a manger, when Herod wanted to kill the infant Jesus God took them to Egypt, when the child Jesus got missing God directed them to the temple where he was found. When Jesus was arrested, beaten and executed, God provided a resurrection on the third day.
Faith is the flame each family needs to fan at this point in time. Christmas is a celebration of God’s faithfulness to His promises to us and we are expected to celebrate it with faith starting from our various families. The family is seriously at risk at this point in time with the challenges of the modern times. It is the devil’s plan to destroy the world starting with the family. There is need for every family to cultivate deep commitment to God through fervent prayers. Prayer has a way of turning a house into a home and when a family stops praying it starts perishing.
The Church teaches us, based on divine revelation, that marriage and the family were instituted by God—the family is his idea and is based on the nature of man. We know from historical experience that healthy families are necessary for a healthy civil society, because man is a social being.
The family is also the “domestic church” according to Vatican II’s decree on the laity (#11). There we read that “the family will fulfill its mission if it shows itself to be the domestic sanctuary of the Church through the mutual affection of its members and the common prayer they offer to God.”
Regarding mutual affection, the opening prayer asks the Father to help us “to live as the holy family, united in respect and love.” All of us should heed the words of Wisdom in the first reading: God blesses those who honor, love and obey their parents. “He who honors his father atones for sins; he stores up riches who reveres his mother.”
First Reading: Israelite wisdom, like the wisdom of other peoples, was the product of the scribal schools and the scribal class; this class first appeared under the monarchy and followed Egyptian models in administration and procedure. Wisdom is gained by counsel and instruction (Proverbs 1:5; 12:15; 13:14; 19:20f), and the young man is frequently admonished to accept instruction. Wisdom comes from association with the wise (Proverbs 13:20). The tradition of wisdom begins with primordial man (Ezekiel 28:12). The wise man accepts correction and instruction (Proverbs 9:8ff; 21:11); he is always learning, where the fool refuses to learn.
Israelite wisdom was modified by its relation to faith in Yahweh, which gives it a character of its own. Both Egypt and Mesopotamia had gods who were venerated for their wisdom, but these gods were specialists. Yahweh alone is truly wise; His wisdom is exhibited in creation (Proverbs 3:19; Job 38- 39).
Wisdom is a treasure which men cannot discover, for it is found only with God, who grants it to men. The wisdom of God is seen not only in His creation but in His management of human history (Job 12:13). Wisdom, while learned from tradition, is ultimately a gift of Yahweh (Proverbs 2:6).
The wisdom literature alone in the Old Testament directs attention explicitly to the problems of the individual person; it is free of peculiarly national traits and of messianism. Its merit is that it does draw attention to the importance of the business of daily life of the man who is not very important, and its emphasis on the fact that life is unity and integrity which must be preserved from the disintegration of folly is not misplaced. Today Sirach tells us about the fidelity towards our parents (4th Commandment) is the fidelity to Yahweh itself.
Second Reading: When you were baptized, you clothed yourself in Christ. This is a brief description of that clothing. These terms (chosen, holy, beloved) were also used in the Old Testament to describe Israel. As a baptized Christian they have entered the new Israel, a community of God’s people – their relations to one another should reflect this. In the second reading St. Paul describes the virtues which should reign in family life: “Because you are God’s chosen ones…clothe yourselves with mercy, kindness, humility, meekness and patience.”
The Council also urges common prayer. Family prayer helps us toward peaceful family living. For, if all are obedient to God, they will love and respect each other. In this regard, Fr. Peyton’s refrain is well known: “The family that prays together stays together.”
In today’s Gospel reading we see God’s loving providence at work to guide and protect the Holy Family. Three times an angel directs Joseph in a dream, and tells him what to do to protect the child Jesus and his mother. God deals with Joseph because he is the head of the family. He obeys God promptly and Mary obeys him. Thus, the Holy Family has aptly been called “the house of obedience.” Since Jesus is the fulfillment of all the prophecies of the Old Testament, there is a parallel with the history of Israel when Matthew quotes the prophet Hosea as saying, “Out of Egypt I have called my son” (Hos. 11:1)./
Since Jesus is our model, we might consider some traits of Jesus’ hidden life. First of all, the family was poor, but not destitute. They were able to travel to Jerusalem for the big feasts. There was a lack of luxuries and unnecessary things. Our use of material things should be patterned on the example of the Holy Family.
Secondly, Jesus worked for a living as a carpenter before his public life. Here we may wonder at the humility of God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, allowing himself to be taught by one of his creatures how to be a carpenter! A third characteristic of Jesus’ hidden life is his obedience to Mary and Joseph. He was subject to them and he kept the whole Old Testament law perfectly.
Finally, the heart and soul of the Holy Family is mutual love and respect—love for God first and then, because of that, love for each other. This love fosters peace, harmony, forgiveness and reconciliation, as St. Paul says in the second reading.
St. Luke tells us that Mary pondered all these things in her heart (2:19, 51). Because of her fullness of grace, spiritually she was beyond the so-called “mystical marriage” of some saints, like St. Teresa of Avila.
Today we thank God for the Holy Family and try to imitate it as best we can in our own family life. Let us pray with the liturgy: “O God, Father of us all, you have given us a model of life in the Holy Family of Nazareth; grant that in our families we may imitate their virtues and love, until gathered together in your house, we may enjoy happiness without end.”
There is a story about a solicitor who lived some distance from her elderly, widowed father. Months had passed since she had seen him and when her father called to ask when she might visit, the daughter detailed a long list of reasons that prevented her from taking the time to see him, court schedules, meetings, new clients, research, etc., etc. At the end of the recitation, the father asked, When I die, do you intend to come to my funeral? The daughters response was immediate,” Dad, I can’t believe you’ve asked that. Of course, I’ll come!” To which the father replied, “Good. Forget the funeral and come now. I need you more now than I will then.” She got the message and began to see him regularly after that.
Just as the holy family survived all its crises through their love for each other and their faith in God, let us pray during this Mass that our families will deal with their difficulties and hold together through love for each other and faith in God.
Let us make one point, that we meet each other with a smile, when it is difficult to smile. Smile at each other, make time for each other in your family. – St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta-
Family is the compass that guides us. They are the inspiration to reach great heights, and our comfort when we occasionally falter. -Brad Henry
The only rock I know that stays steady, the only institution I know that works, is the family -Lee Iacocca
Fr. Gaspar Fernandes, OFM Cap.