Feast of the Holy Family :Sir 3:2-6, 12-14, Col: 3:12-21, Mat: 2:13-15, 19-23).
Pope Francis said that as a child, he heard a story of a family with a mother, father, many children and a grandfather. The grandfather, suffering from Parkinson’s illness, would drop food on the dining table, and smear it all over his face when he ate. His son considered it disgusting. Hence, one day he bought a small table and set it off to the side of the dining hall so the grandfather would eat, make a mess and not disturb the rest of the family. One day, the Pope said, the grandfather’s son came home and found one of his sons playing with a piece of wood. “What are you making?” he asked his son. “A table,” the son replies. “Why?” the father asks. “It’s for you, Dad, when you get old like grandpa, I am going to give you this table.” Ever since that day, the grandpa was given a prominent seat at the dining table and all the help he needed in eating by his son and daughter-in-law. “This story has done me such good throughout my life,” said the Pope, who celebrated his 77th birthday on December 17. “Grandparents are a treasure,” he said. There is sickness and all that, but the wisdom our grandparents have is something we must welcome as an inheritance.” A society or community that does not value, respect and care for its elderly members “doesn’t have a future because it has no memory, it’s lost its memory,” Pope Francis added.
On the last Sunday of the year, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. The first reading is a commentary on the fourth commandment: "Honor your father and your mother." When a child obeys his parents, he will have his sins forgiven, his prayers heard, and will himself be blessed with children. Sirach counsels us to be good to our parents in their old age, even when their minds fail!
Paul, in the letter to the Colossians, advises us that we should put on love and remain thankful in our relationships with one another. The reading says that if the parents fail to do what is right and just in the sight of God, they can hardly complain if their children turn out disobedient to God and to them. The young learn more from example than from precept.
Holy- means healthy. A family can grow healthy only on the key virtues of forgiveness and patience. "Put on... patience," St Paul writes, "bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do."
There is no way to create an atmosphere of forgiveness without being ready to ask for forgiveness. The best gift we can give our families is to make a commitment to always be the first one to say "I'm sorry" whenever there is the slightest need. That little phrase is like super-glue for family relationships.
A senior Judge of the Supreme Court congratulated the bride and groom in a marriage with a pertinent piece of advice: “See that you never convert your family into a courtroom; instead let it be a confessional. If the husband and wife start arguing like attorneys in an attempt to justify their behavior, their family becomes a court of law and nobody wins. On the other hand, if the husband and the wife -- as in a confessional -- are ready to admit their faults and try to correct them, the family becomes a heavenly one.”
Today's Gospel described for us a family on the run, suffering, struggling just to survive. God permits hardships, because he knows that hardships can bring us closer to him. When we face the hardships of family life with courage, we grow in virtue and glorify God better, because we have a chance to love more heroically.
Jesus did not come to a protected life, but he came to the life that any ordinary man must live. He experienced the hardships of the people who are forced to leave their home and kinsmen; he can very well relate to the problems of refugees. He experienced the problems of an ordinary workman, while working as a carpenter in Nazareth; and He experienced the pangs of death when his foster father died.
When we try to give a struggle free life for our children we do not give them any chance to experience the world in which they live. When we try to provide them the best education, they ignore the illiteracy around. When we struggle to provide them the best food, they are unaware of the poverty that exists around them. When we want to give them the best of everything, they do not see the suffering in the world. So, never hesitate to let our children go through struggles, but help them go through it. It will strengthen them as mature human beings. Family life, truly is the school where we learn to color in the outline of the image of God in which we were created.
At a time when many families are breaking up and breaking down all over, the Holy Family presents itself as our source of great hope and consolation. There is perhaps no other way to keep each family intact and moving onwards except through the virtue of sheer self-sacrifice and self-giving for each other in the family.
May the Holy Family intercede for all families that they may remain one and united in the model of Holy Family of Nazareth.