for Sunday, December 26, 2010
Today, the day after Christmas this year, we celebrate the Feast of the
Holy Family. Far too often we think only of Jesus and not about how he
grew up in a human family because He Himself was Human as well as Divine.
The importance of family today becomes clearer and clearer. In many
countries the divorce rate continues to rise. In some countries, any
grouping of humans in a household is now called a family. This is not
entirely bad, but it can never replace the traditional family.
The Book of Sirach, from which is taken our first reading, is one of the
wisdom books. Simply reflecting on our human situation but situating that
reflection in the presence of God. This reading and the second reading
from the Letter to the Colossians are simple reminders to us that all
relationships must be based in love for one another in God. Each of the
aspects of that love is important: love for one another and love in God.
The reason that both of these aspects of the relationship are important is
that love today is defined in secular terms without God and perhaps even
without any philosophical underpinning. Love in the great philosophical
and theological traditions is about choosing the well - being of the other
person over my own well - being; it is about choosing what is good for the
other person as more important than what is good for me. One could say
that without some power outside of oneself, this type of choice is not
really possible. This was the conclusion even of the atheistic
existentialists of the 1960s.
This type of love is generally seen in the love of a mother for her
children. It is sometimes seen in the love of a father for his children.
Thus the traditional family was the locus of learning how to love others
and even to prefer the good of others above my own good.
For us Christians, the family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph provides sort of a
snapshot of what a loving family looks like. It also shows us that choices
must be made in truth. When Jesus is 12 and abandons his parents so that
he can teach in the temple, one can wonder about how this reflects true
love. But if this going about His Father's business is truly something
that He had to do, then He is living in the truth. He is living in God.
It is not always easy to discern these things. We have lots of mistakes
that happen in learning how to love, even in the best of families.
As we celebrate this Feast of the Holy Family today, we can each commit
ourselves to this striving to love in spirit and in truth. We can commit
ourselves to striving to love all others, especially those with whom we
live. We can commit ourselves to forgiving whatever defects may have been
present in our parents' love for us. We can walk to the Lord in this life,
seeking to love one another in God.
Readings of the day:
Reflections are available for the following Sundays: