Today we take a step back from the Christ Child in order to meditate on the Holy Family. The family is a gift that comes from the heart of our Heavenly Father. We don’t so much define family as receive God’s gift of family. The Holy Family can teach us what the family is all about.
In our first reading we see Hannah who is suffering from infertility. She pours out her grief to the Lord and promises that if she receives a son, she will give him back to God. This reveals to us the deep truth that children are a gift from God. But it also reveals that we are a gift that is made to give. Man cannot find himself except in a sincere gift of self (GS 24). We are made in the image and likeness of God who is love. Love is a gift; to love is to give yourself away. So we can only truly find ourselves when we give ourselves away.
Some think of marriage like a contract: we get to know somebody, use them for a trial period, and then decide to sign on the dotted line. But marriage is not a contract, it is a covenant. It is total gift of persons to one another. Marriage, sexuality, and children are all part of the same total gift of self. You shouldn’t choose one without the other two; they all belong together.
So look at the Gospel now and it makes much more sense. Jesus already knows that he doesn’t belong to His parents. God has given him to his parents, and they will have to give him back again. Yet he is obedient: he makes a gift of himself to his parents. All must learn the law of the gift. Housework is easy when you make a gift of yourself; housework is hard when you try to keep yourself. We have to all learn to make a gift of ourselves.
- If you want to be happy, give yourself away.
- If you want your family to be happy, give your children away.
None of us truly owns ourselves. We are a gift given by God. We find happiness when we learn to give. A holy family is a family that has learned to give generously. May your family be a holy family.
(27 Dec 2015)
Point to Discuss: Prayer this Prayer of Dedication to the Holy Family:
Let us pray,
O Joseph, guardian and protector of the Holy Family, pray for us that through the example of your holy obedience all who dwell here may be guided in their daily work and journey of faith.
O Mary, Our Mother, through you Christ made his home with us on earth and sanctified the life of our homes. Pray for us that we may grow in holiness by your example of compassion and merciful love.
O Jesus, we set before you now our trials and joys. Look graciously upon this home, that it be dedicated to your Holy Family
in peace, faith, and the example of your merciful love. Protect us both here and away, and welcome those who have gone before us into your heavenly home.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.