The Holy Family

All the gifts have been opened.

Those that needed to be returned are returned.

We have stuffed ourselves to capacity.

Then the Church lays the feast day on us to help remind us of what is truly important. The feast of the Holy Family.

manger.jpgWe have the Holy Family as a model for our own families, but too many times we can write off that example. How hard it must be to live up to the standard of one who is Jesus, another who is sinless, and the poor guy who is inevitably always wrong. (That must have made it easy to find the person to blame when Jesus went missing for three days, but certainly frustrating when someone forgot to take out the garbage.)

All jokes aside, how can we live up to the standard of the Holy Family in our own lives? How can we make Christ the center of our lives in a very real way?

Christ Is Real

One of the most important ways is to remember that Jesus is alive and that He is with us at all times, every day, in everything that we do.

How would our behavior with our families be different if we knew that Christ was right next to us the entire time? How would our decisions as to how to address each other in our own families be different?

Family is the place where we are supposed to give and receive life, but many times our cutting tongue is the way that we remove the very lives of the people were are charged to protect, to love, and to guide.

How would our entertainment be different in our families if we knew that Jesus was sitting on the couch next to us watching TV? In the office chair next to us surfing the Internet? Playing that video game with us?

The example of the Holy Family shows us that Christ is very real and that His presence in our families is a very concrete reality. Far from being a reason for us to throw up the white flag of surrender and forget about the prospect of ever becoming holy, it is probably best to throw up the white flag and simply say to Christ, “I surrender. I give you everything that I am, including my family.”

Share with the Family

So now we know that Jesus is part of the family, whether we want it or not. How do we share that with family members? In spirited debate? In the arguing of logic to drive the point home? With the witty use of Scripture verses that will make everyone quiver in fear? Perhaps Jesus will help us to work miracles and everyone will know how holy we are!

Maybe we need to just change ourselves.

Words mean nothing if they are not backed up with action and the best action you can take is simply to surrender to Christ more every day. That is going to be difficult because the more you surrender to Christ, the more difficult it is to surrender even farther.

The more you surrender, the more you recognize that you still have farther to go.

“You want me to love my family member when they do that and not say anything at all?”

Just be another Christ to them when they need it.

“You want me to give up this favorite entertainment outlet when I love it so much?”

Just be another Christ to them when they need it.

It may take days. It may take months. It may take years.

We need to join ourselves to Christ and be a little Christ to others, especially our families. We need to join ourselves to the real Holy Family.

The Real Holy Family

When we join ourselves to Christ we become part of the Trinity, which is a family in the purest sense. It is the purest sense in that the Trinity is a family made up of the givers an receivers of love, and the creative Spirit between them.

We are created in that image. To be givers and receivers of love that bears fruit, that is creative.

In a family, that means children and any parent can tell you that the sacrificial love of a parent is very much like the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross; the sacrifice of a God who wants the best for his children only to see them fall time and again; the joy of any parent at the birth of his child.

This family is very real, perhaps the most real family there can be. Mary, Joseph, and Jesus are the perfect image of that family in human form.

This is what we aspire to.

This is what we pray to be.

This is what we surrender to Christ. Everything we are. Even our families.

Christ, make us Holy Families.

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage

  • Warren Jewell

    Jesus Christ is Master to our hearts and souls, and very Brother among our children. He is Love, as love is Jesus. He can guide us to learn how we can love each other the way spouses and their families simply must, in this world so in need of love.

    I watch with such joyful pleasure as my older grandchildren, Rachel and Erik, beg to hold their new little sister, Natalia – and witness how ‘a child will lead them’ into love. She of course sleeps through most of their tender care, but they merely want to hold their family’s new bundle of love. Both already can feed her her bottle of Mom’s milk – she still has not learned to suckle, herself – and proceed to change her diaper, all the time soothing her over her dislike of ‘cold’ wipes on her butt.

    Through their smiles and gentleness over her needs, they learn love has many touches on her, and on them. I have already ‘warned’ them to watch for her first look at them as they come to her, for her smile of recognition, trust and purest love – moments to forever embed love between them.

    And, are not their little fusses with their new little sister as loving prayers to be the best family they can be? For such is the stuff of a Grandpa’s prayers.

  • Cooky642

    “You want me to love my family member when they do that and not say anything at all?” It’s too bad that the extreme incredulity in which that question is always uttered does not come through in the written word. It would seem that an answer of “yes” is simply beyond belief. And yet, that’s exactly what we are called to.

    There’s an old expression that goes: “familiarity breeds contempt”, and no other relationship known to man/woman underscores that truth better/faster than marriage. But, can anyone seriously defend the proposition that Jesus, Mary and Joseph ever felt/showed contempt for one another? So, what does that tell us about ourselves? What does that tell us about our “lived Christianity”? I think it tells us exactly what Mr. Lemieux pointed out above: “Words mean nothing if they are not backed up with action and the best action you can take is simply to surrender to Christ more every day. That is going to be difficult because the more you surrender to Christ, the more difficult it is to surrender even farther.” Boy, have we got our work cut out for us!

    Lastly, dear Warren, congratulations on the arrival of Natalia. I was praying for her and her Mommy since you wrote that she was expected any day. What a lovely Christmas gift! May she grow up and grow old under the love of her Grandpa’s prayers.