Feast of the Holy Family

Sir 3:2-6, 12-14; Col 3: 12-21; Lk 2:22-40 or

Gen 15:1-6; 21:1-3; Heb 11:8, 11-12, 17-19; Lk 2:22-40

 Fr. Jiju Varghese Kevillil, S.J.

As we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family, I invite you to reflect on family life in the context of the pandemic in which we are all together. The pandemic and the lockdown that followed have affected the dynamics of family life in many ways. For a lot of people, work from home has become the new normal; as a result people are home not off work but with work.  Balancing home life and work has become a bigger challenge these days. For many it has been a blessing as they are able to get a lot of family time. Whereas some others found the extra time with their family members very taxing and stressful. There are also families who had to struggle harder to make ends meet which increased the stress on them. Many lost their jobs and livelihoods which made the taking care of the basic needs of the family a daunting task.

The pandemic has also highlighted a number of issues that plague family life these days. There has certainly been an erosion of values in families. In many families work, making wealth, social media, virtual relationships and online life, unlimited freedom without responsibility, individualism have taken precedence over genuine love and welfare of one another. Perhaps the pandemic is an occasion for us to reflect on where our families stand in comparison to the Holy Family which was not much different from ours.

We do not have many details of the life of the Holy Family. But what we know throws a lot of light on the nature of the Holy Family. We know from the gospel today that it was a family where Jesus was able to grow and become strong and mature, where he increased in wisdom not just knowledge, where he was able to truly experience Gods’ grace in plenty. It was an environment where Jesus was able to grow up as the beloved son of God.

Do our families offer an environment for one another to grow, especially for our children? Are our families truly places where we and our children grow strong physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally? Do we also increase in wisdom and help our children gain wisdom or do they just accumulate knowledge? Are our families places where we and our children feel the grace of God abundantly in the form of love and care from one another? Do the situations of our families promote the growth of one another as beloved children of God and live accordingly?

Pope Francis in Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love) clearly emphasizes the immutable importance of love in families. He says that “The strength of the family lies in its capacity to love and to teach how to love.” The entire exhortation is a good read for all of us to rejuvenate our families. The chapter on love is a delight to read and will be of great help for us to reclaim the values of family life and handle the complexities of relationships in families.

Let me suggest the following few ideas that if ensured in families can help us grow up as children of God.

  1. Quality time is given to one another especially free of gadgets and devices
  2. Freedom with responsibility is taught
  3. Learn to choose what is right instead of what is popular
  4. Have more faith in real life than virtual life and understand that face to face human relationship is more important and beneficial than machine relationships
  5. All types of individualistic and narcissistic tendencies are nipped in the bud
  6. Every day some time is set apart for spiritual nourishment together
  7. Have respect not only for other human beings but also for all of God’s creation
  8. Be inclusive in our thinking, especially for those who have less than us

Let us also not forget those who do not have a family or a proper environment in their families to grow up as children of God. As members of the larger family of the children of God it is our responsibility to reach out to them and support them in whatever way we can.

May the Holy Family continue to inspire all of us to improve our family life and our lives as children of God.

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