What Makes a Family Holy?
Do you have a favorite image of the Holy Family? What makes it your favorite image? Do you think of your own family as a “holy family”? What is it about your family that is holy? Would you consider putting your family’s picture in this frame with the title “Holy Family”?
As you read and listen to the readings this weekend, you will hear countless examples of what makes a family holy. Abram and Sarai are uncertain and afraid as they ponder the loss of a future when they are childless and old. God promises them that their family will be as countless as the stars in the sky. Imagine it! Faith and an understanding that family is expansive and includes many who are not even related by blood makes God’s promise reality. Faith isn’t intended to be a personal achievement only; it is meant to be cultivated and grown to include others as brothers and sisters. By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called into an unknown future. By faith, he received power to generate children. He found God to be trustworthy. Do we have a faith strong enough to believe that seemingly impossible things will come to be in our own families?
Simeon and Anna, at the presentation of the child Jesus in the Temple, highlight all that was promised by the birth of Jesus. Jesus brings peace. He fulfills God’s promises that a Messiah would come. He is one of us, human, and totally a part of the whole world, sent to the Gentiles as well as to Israel. Anna has been fasting and praying for 84 years and lives to see the coming of Jesus through waiting, learning and patience. In our holy families, we too are called to practice waiting, learning and patience.
In a sense, we “present” ourselves to the Lord each and every Sunday, each and every day! We offer ourselves to God, unfinished as we are, expecting to grow in faith and trust that God’s promises to each of us will be fulfilled in our own waiting, learning and patience. At times, we too are called to discern what God is calling us to, to obey something we don’t entirely understand.
This Christmas season gives us an opportunity to celebrate family in so many ways. May it be for us a time to rejoice in our own families. May our love and hope be as strong as that everyone felt for the infant Jesus at his birth.
And so we pray: Teach us, Holy Spirit, how to love as you and the Father and the Son love. Make each and everyone part of your holy family. Let our Nazareths be places of kind words, patience and compassion. Help us all work together for all that is good and pleasing to God who dwells in possibility.