Dec. 31, 2017: Holy Family
What do you remember most fondly about your childhood? A priest shared a memory from his childhood about his dad teaching him and his three brothers how to pray each night before they went to bed. His dad was a manager at McDonald’s, and he often worked long hours and late nights. After getting home late and still in his work clothes, his dad would gather the boys in one of their bedrooms and calm them down by asking them to take three breaths very slowly. His dad would take out a little prayer card from his shirt pocket, and the boys would repeat a line of the prayer until they memorized the whole prayer. Soon they learned several prayers, and To this day, they all pray those prayers.
When the priest was an adult, he asked his dad about those evenings when he taught his sons the prayers. His dad revealed that when he came home tired after 12 hours or more at McDonald’s, all he felt like doing was relaxing for a while. However, his wife encouraged her husband night after night to go into their sons’ rooms to pray with them. She worked behind the scenes as the gentle inspiration for her husband so that he could be the spiritual leader of the family. It’s a very touching and inspiring story, isn’t it?
Is there something similar that your family tries to do to strive for holiness? If we need inspiration on how to foster holiness in our family, we need to look no further than the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Theirs was a community of love and sharing, a community of prayer and faith. They were materially poor, as indicated by the kind of sacrifice they were able to afford at the temple. They were not immune from challenges, struggles, and misunderstandings that ordinary families face. Joseph and Mary had no place to stay for the birth of their child, they had to immigrate to a foreign country when Herod wanted to kill their child, and they had to suffer temporary loss of their child on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. But there was never a shortage of nurturing and caring love in that family. Blessed Mother and St. Joseph built a community of love and sharing by their willingness to offer themselves for the sake of another. We see their examples in scripture of total self-surrender and acceptance of God’s will.
Our families may not be perfect; our family life is a work in progress. It takes conscientious effort and hard work to practice forgiveness, honesty, and openness within our families. It is challenging with the busyness and noise in our homes, but it is so important in our families to develop a prayer life. Although it may seem so difficult, God is here for us to help us live through our mistakes and its consequences, meanwhile making forgiveness possible. What should be a new resolution for our families this new year? How about recommitting to having God at the center of our lives. Just as the Holy Family, let us listen to Him, talk with Him, believe in Him and do his will at all times.