What Makes A Family Holy?

Raphael_The_Holy_Family_with_a_Palm_Tree

Feast Of The Holy Family 2019

Fr. Mark Gatto

Preached: December 29, 2019

The Holy Family versus our families.

For many of us when we look at our families perhaps we think of them as more dysfunctional rather than holy!  It is therefore sometimes hard to see the Holy Family as an image for us and our families.  It seems to be some model outside of our reality.

Well, look at this Holy Family.  Joseph, Mary, Jesus.  It all began with what would have been a great scandal.  Mary is pregnant before they were together.  In fact, Joseph’s first plan was to quietly dismiss Mary.  Mary was frightened, probably very confused by this situation.  All of their plans for their life together were turned upside down.

They also faced the reality of being an oppressed people by the overpowering Roman Empire.  At the time of the birth of Jesus, they were away from home, had no place to stay.

Then their early years were spent as refugees in a foreign land.  We see so many refugees in our world today, forced to flee their home and country due to various dangers.  Joseph, Mary and Jesus we see in today’s Gospel, were also refugees who had to flee their homeland for their safety.

Joseph and Mary also faced the challenges of being parents, we know from the story when Jesus was about 12 and gets left behind in the Temple.  Any of you parents who have been worried about your children for any reason will know the worry that they felt.

The end of this family came with the crucifixion of Jesus, punished as a criminal.  His whole mission and project seemingly ending in failure.

This Holy Family faced as many or more challenges than our own families.  Everything did not go smoothly for them.  From appearances it was unlikely that anyone would have seen them as particularly holy or special. Just a regular family with the same struggles that most families face in this world.

So, what made them Holy?  Jesus, the Son of God, was in the midst of this family.  The presence of God dwelled in the heart of this family.  Our families can also be holy when we allow Jesus to dwell in the midst of our family, when we allow the presence of God to be in the heart of our family.  We do that by praying together, by celebrating the Sacraments together, by praying for each other.  We do that by forgiving one another and caring for each other when in need.

Many today might say that is not possible, no one else in my family believes in God, few in my family pray or are trying to live as a disciple of Jesus.  But, if there is just one member of a family who is praying, one member of a family celebrating the Sacraments, one member of a family praying for the others.  Then God continues to dwell within that family.

You may be the one person who keeps the presence of God alive within your family.  Your quiet prayer, your prayer for the others in your family, this keeps alive the presence of Jesus and so your family can be called holy.

Our somewhat dysfunctional families can be connected to the Holy Family when we keep Jesus in our families, when we keep the presence of God in our families, even if it is just one member who is doing that.

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