A Real and Holy Family

12-27-2020Pastoral ReflectionsFr. Brian

Have you noticed as you look at TV, the print media, and also on the social platforms that we always see these absolutely perfect photos and advertisements of stunningly perfect families in perfectly decorated and spotless homes with just the right amount of snow seen through the picture window behind them? We know that we can never have our home and family photographed liked that perfect family. Instead, we are blessed by the invitation from our God to believe and follow Him and that this invitation is to be a family of compassion and understanding, of kindness and forgiveness, not a family of visual perfection.

In our Gospel reading for today we hear the very ordinary story of an ordinary set of new parents who are trying to take their religious responsibilities seriously. They go off to the Temple to fulfill their observance of the holy law of Israel. When they get to the Temple, they bump into Anna and Simeon, both of whom reveal to us an insight into Luke's reason for including this particular story in his Gospel.

Because we have all heard this story many times, we know that Anna and Simeon were given the role of being prophetic. Even though Joseph and Mary were new parents with their own hopes and dreams for their son, they clearly heard the dramatic words of these two holy prophets. They may not have understood, but when they went back home, they certainly remembered these prophetic words. Back home, they continued their loving duty to care for their child. They loved and cherished their child. They did this faithfully, and at the same time knew that no one controls anyone's future, not even their own child's.

What we can control for our children is offering them the gift of our faith and our own example in daily living our faith. Children learn as they grow up day by day. Children hear and learn their values and find meaning by what their parents say and do, or do not say or do not do. Parents' example of the day in and day out living to teach their beloved children more than any other influence. Faith, a Religious Way of Life, and God-centered values essentially come from how our parents live out these truths, not by what they say.

Christmas is the season when a family takes on stronger emphasis. When we think about the story of Jesus and his parents Mary and Joseph, they were real and in many ways as normal as we are. Mary and Joseph as parents had to live life, support themselves, and raise a child. As the story of the Holy Family unfolds in various passages, it shows us that despite all the difficulties and worries that they had, Mary and Joseph's example of faith stayed strong and clear. Despite forced exile and being political immigrants in Egypt, despite political oppression in their homeland and its constant fear, and also despite the day-to-day worries of supporting themselves and having a decent roof over their heads, they raised Jesus to be a person of faith. This is a task not only for all parents to raise their cherished children in our faith, but also it is our grace and duty to assist them.