Over the last few days, most of us have been around our families. There have been laughs, tears, arguments, disagreements, some of the normal drama has arisen to the surface; but, no matter what, whether we like them or not, they are our families.
The Christmas season reminds us that Jesus was born into the messiness of time and life. He was born into a human family of a mother and father, aunts and uncles, grandparents and cousins, and family friends. They had the same laughs we had over the last few weeks and the same arguments; they shed the same tears and laughed as we did. Like them, the holiness of our families is found in the reality that Jesus is in the middle of it all even when he is not acknowledged.
The family of the church is no different than our families and the family of Jesus. What makes the Church a Holy Family is the reality that Jesus is the foundation of the family of the Church.
It is from our families we learn how to pray and know Jesus; it is here in the family of faith we learn to pray and to know Jesus.
At our dinner tables at home we share a meal; here we share the banquet of life.
It is in our homes we learn to say: I forgive you, I love you; here God says that to each of us in the life of the sacraments.
Family life is intrinsically linked to the life of the family of faith: the Church. Each depends on the other; they can never be separated. Remember the saying of Fr Peyton: The family that prays together stays together.
In the new year, we need to beg God to touch the hearts of the families of those who do not come to worship. We need to ask the Mother of God and our Mother to wrap them in her mantle of care, so they know the Love she brought into this world. We need ask St Joseph to lead them like any father into a life that will bear fruit. Without our absent brothers and sisters, we cannot be the whole Body of Christ. The family of the Church misses and cares for them. We need to let them know exactly that.
However, we also need to look at how we live as the family of faith so that when people return, we do not fall into old and unhealthy ways; just like any other family. St John gives us the yardstick to measure who we are as a holy family of faith:
And his commandment is this: we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded us. Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them, and the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit he gave us.
To believe in Jesus and be proud and open about it, to love as He loves, and to keep his commandments are what will make us a Holy Family of faith.
May the Lord grant us the grace to be transformed into the mystery of the Holy Family of Nazareth. May Jesus always be the very rock and center of all we do as a family of faith; here and now.