The Holy Family of Joseph, Mary and Jesus are a family that we are supposed to imitate. A little odd to see the two words together: holy and family. Probably the least likely adjective that we would use for our own family.
Being holy is the last thought on our mind when “all hell” breaks loose. That happens when everybody’s arguing, fighting, or getting physically violent. The image of a family has evolved drastically, even compared to only 100 years ago. All sorts of factors have contributed to the evolution, but no one can change the original intent: Father and mother are essential, and they form a family at the Altar when they are married. Children are the blessing, if God wills. Divorce, remarried, single parent homes, mixed marriages and “mixed up” marriages are all part of our reality. There’s certainly a lot more than meets the eye to a group of people living under one roof. From the outside looking in, we might be quick to judge, given our prejudices. However, our judgement calls help no one. Being judgmental is against the directive of Jesus Christ. His Mother was judged unjustly, even by her own husband. St. Joseph had planned to call off their wedding until the angel came to him in a dream and told him that Mary was pregnant by God’s plan. St. joseph realized that he had a lot of work ahead, just battling the accusations against him and the Blessed Mother. People talk. They counted the months from the wedding to when the first child was born. In the case of Joseph and Mary, people talked a lot! Several episodes in the Bible signal that Jesus didn’t really belong to St. Joseph. “Isn’t He the son of the carpenter? Isn’t Mary His mother? We know His family!” The folks certainly did not call them a Holy Family back then.
There were exceptions to the negativity—like Simeon and Anna. But who is going to believe two old people who spend their whole day in the Temple praying? Who cares about the opinion of two people who can barely walk? Simeon and Anna made “old age” look good. They saw what others did not see. Often the grandparents or those who have more life-experience can perceive that others miss. We are all in a hurry. Simeon and Anna moved at a turtle pace. Consider how much we miss because we do not have time to stop and talk with someone. Most people rather text and speak over the cellphone. Texting is faster. However, in the rush, we miss the details. Rarely does someone take the time to listen. The art of listening—the art of conversation is quickly disappearing.
The most vulnerable victim is the family. In many homes families do not eat together because of conflicting schedules or worse, lack of desire. The family table is where stories are shared. Catching up with each other can happen. Relationships can be healed. Remember, Jesus chose a meal to share Himself with humanity. In a sense the family table is an extension of the Eucharistic Table. We pray, we laugh, we cry—but always together. That’s the point—to give ourselves the opportunity to be together. Leadership needs to come from the parents. If parents or those in charge of a home do not place importance on family dining, nothing will happen. Parents are not just supposed to pay the bills, they are responsible to lead by example. Presence, listening, caring means much more than giving possessions. Moments together are what young people remember. We do not have to settle for a dysfunctional arrangement. If we want the best for our families, we must make time for them. Holiness does not mean without problems—means being whole. Just being together is a major step to being holy. We are called to imitate Joseph, Mary and Jesus. The Church would never have given us an impossible goal. Being holy is within our reach.
Just coping with daily struggles is a great accomplishment. We are not perfect. We just want to be holy.