Because you are God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with heartfelt mercy, with kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another; forgive whatever grievances you have against one another. Forgive as the Lord has forgiven you. Over all these virtues put on love, which binds the rest together and makes them perfect…Whatever you do, whether in speech or in action, do it in the name of the Lord Jesus. Give thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:12-17
On this Feast of the Holy Family, we pray with the holiest family that ever lived on earth. We may wonder how our family, with all its not-so-holy moments, can follow the example of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. One thing is for sure. We can trust God in all our life’s circumstances as the Holy Family did.
It’s doubtful that we will ever be asked to trust as much as they. After all, Mary saw an angel who told her she was pregnant. Though she did not understand, she trusted and accepted being a servant of God. Joseph dreamed that he was to take Mary as his wife. He was afraid, but he trusted. These simple people were told they were to become the parents of the Messiah. Jesus was born in a stable or cave, hardly fitting for a King. Then they had to leave everything and live as refugees in order to save their son.
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph can understand our lives because they lived as a family. They had to learn patience. They might not have had to deal with remote learning while working from home, but Mary and Joseph had to teach Jesus through their example. Jesus had to be patient with his parents who probably could not answer all his questions.
If our paychecks have dried up due to COVID-19, know that Joseph had to leave his trade to go into Egypt, and Mary had to leave the people she knew all her life and try to get used to a new culture. While Jesus was exceptionally obedient, as a teenager he decided to go to the temple and thought his parents would just understand where he was. Yes, patience and trust had to be qualities of the Holy Family.
We know Jesus lived a life of love. He knew how to do this because his parents loved each other and him. Mary taught him how to care about the needs of others. Remember the Wedding Feast at Cana?
He learned from his parents. When he went out to call his disciples, he did not just expect to find people like himself. He loved sinners and tax collectors and all kinds of people. He had compassion on the crowds who needed food, and he healed those with sicknesses and demons of all kinds. His family boundary grew wider and wider because love, by its very nature, is expansive.
Jesus taught us that happiness comes from making peace, from showing mercy, and by forgiving. Yes, we are called to reverence all: the passive aggressive person who is afraid to share, the one who finds religious practice of no value, the drug addict, the weak, the elderly, the funny, the delightful, the constantly forgiving one.
Family life calls us to embrace each other as Jesus, Mary, and Joseph embraced one another and each of us. Our family, in imitation of The Holy Family, is meant to be a place where openness, forgiveness, kindness, and trust flourish. And, if it is, no matter our shortcomings then our family may rightly be called “holy.”
The Holy Family is our twenty-ninth Ornament of Grace.
Observing the Beautiful Ornaments
How can you show kindness to someone in your immediate or extended family who irritates you?
How has patience and forgiveness helped you to grow in understanding of another’s point of view or view of the world?