Probably you are recovering from your Christmas celebration and looking forward to the New Year. Between these two feasts there comes another liturgical event, namely, the Feast of the Holy Family. The Church invites the faithful to focus their attention on the holy trio – Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Hopefully we can all learn some significant lessons from them.
The gospels present the holy family as being besieged and under stress. They are constantly on the move from Bethlehem to Egypt, and then from Egypt to Nazareth. Mary and Joseph recognize the need to protect the Christ Child from a king who wants to assassinate Him. They do all in their power to provide a safe haven for the God who made Himself small. A simple carpenter and a humble handmaiden set aside their own comfort and convenience to provide for their Son. What the Holy Family confronted in their lives two thousand years ago resonate with what families are grappling with today.
Compared to the Holy Family, we have so much, much more. Our standard of life is probably higher than what even Herod the Great could have imagined or hoped for. Not even Baby Jesus could have aspired for the opportunities that our children take for granted today. And yet, the one resource that the Holy Family had was time. They had plenty of it. The gospel stories are sketchy at best but they seem to imply that His parents were totally consumed by their eagerness to take care of Jesus. Mary and Joseph, it would seem, gave all their attention to their Child.
The family today is under a lot of stress. In spite of our material well-being, we lack the one thing that the Holy Family seems to have had, namely, time. Both parents and children are over-committed and over-extended. More than ever parents are super-involved in the lives of their children and yet the family as such does not seem to have much quality time together. In her impactful book, The Price of Privilege, Madeline Levine laments: “Raising children has come to look more and more like a business endeavor and less and less like an endeavor of the heart. We are overly concerned with ‘the bottom line,’ and with how our children ‘do’ rather than with who our children ‘are.’ We pour time, attention, and money into insuring their performance, consistently making it to their soccer game while inconsistently making it to the dinner table.” In other words, Ms Levine calls on families to spend time together, just to be with each other.
Several years ago I was a con-celebrant at the funeral Mass of a friend’s dad who had eight children, all of them adults at that time. The oldest son delivered the eulogy and what he said about his father really stuck with me. He remembered his dad not for the wise counsel he shared with his children or for the sacrifices he made. He was grateful to his dad for coming to their Little League games and to their piano recitals. He thanked his dad for the gift of time.
I know that over Christmas we all want to give the best presents to our loved ones. The best gift you can give to your family is time. I am calling on all families to make a resolution for the coming year to spend quality time as a family, doing things together, just being with each other. Make it a priority to share meals together. Make attending Sunday Mass a family affair. Pray together. I am sure all of you do these things. I just want to encourage everyone to keep on doing them.
As we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family, let us also pray for those families that are on the run. Just like Jesus, Mary and Joseph, there are families in our country that have no home.
May you have a grace-filled New Year! God has planned some great things for all of us both as individuals and as a parish. Let us be ready for the ride.
Born in India to deeply-committed Catholic parents, Fr Britto is one of seven children. He joined the Salesians of Don Bosco as a young man and was ordained a priest in 1981.
After he completed his priestly formation and his early education in India, he came to the US for his graduate degree in Journalism at...Read more...