HOMILY ON THE FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY 2018
Few days ago the mother church, in fact, the whole world celebrated the Nativity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who chose to be born like us into the family. Today we celebrate the family where Jesus was raised. It is tagged the ‘HOLY FAMILY’ not just because being born there, Jesus sanctified it, but also because each of the members of the family (Jesus, Mary and Joseph), play their respective roles perfectly well and thereby set example that none before or after them ever met.
Comprising of a father, a mother and children, a family is the nucleus of a society. It is the coming together of many families that forms a society. Both the politicians, businessmen/women, clergymen and women, the military and paramilitary, doctors, pilots, scientist, etc. come from a family. The success of a society depend so much on the success of the various families that form such society.
Catholic marriage is a covenant between a male and female adults who love each other and are open to welcome children and rare or bring them up in a sound morality after the mind of the church. It is characterized by its indissolubility. The covenantal oath we take is usually for better or for worse. When there a problem is discovered in marriage, both spouses should prayerfully and lovingly sought for its solution which may not necessarily include separation, (or divorce as you call it).
The last paragraph of the second reading summarized the spirituality of family living which if adhered to, will bring about the holiness and peacefulness of such family. St Paul in this last paragraph exhorts wives to be submissive to their husbands without pretense but as if they were obeying the Lord. On the other hand, he ask the husbands to love their wives. In his letter to the Ephesians, he said, ‘as Christ love the Church’. Now Christ loved the church to the point of shedding His blood for her ransom. In other words, St. Paul was saying that husbands should love their wives to point of dying for them. Children were asked to respect their parents and parents never to drive their children crazy. This is actually what it takes to be a holy family.
Knowing how imperfect we are, St. Paul, in the beginning of today’s second reading, outlines some necessary qualities that can help to sustain our marriage, among them are tolerance, patience, kindness, humility and gentleness. If we possess those qualities, it will then be easy for us to bear with another and forgive one another as soon as quarrel begins. No marriage can last without patient tolerance, mutual understanding and forgiveness. Pope Francis is correct when he says that there is no such thing as perfect relationship or perfect family. This is because those who constitute those families are imperfect. If the husband and the wife are both imperfect and beget imperfect children, there is bound to be misunderstanding; and the only way to solve such misunderstanding is to bear with one another and forgive one another as St. Paul exhorts us today.
The holy family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, that we celebrate today were never free from such challenges, on the contrary, theirs were more serious. For instance, the circumstance of Mary’s conception would have led to her public disgrace and divorce, but Joseph was patient with her until the truth was revealed. They experienced the problem of extreme poverty that they were unable to pay for the hotel, which was the reason why the child had to be born in a manger. They also experiences the problem of insecurity especially after the birth of their child that they had to run to Egypt in order to secure His life. In all these, they never wavered nor lose their trust in God nor do they fail mutual love and understanding.
The priority set by parents will always be the driving force and will determine to a great extent, how their children are brought up. The parents of Jesus as see in today’s gospel, usually go on pilgrimage to Jerusalem annually, and on that year when Jesus was twelve years old they took Him to Jerusalem for their usual pilgrimage. It was an opportunity to expose Him to His public ministry. Jesus I think, purposely decided to hide from them to make them long more for Him not only as their son but also as their God. He had always been taught especially by Mary, His mother, how to place God first before any other thing.
Parents are challenged to teach their children in their early age, how to embrace the things of God such as simple prayer, organizing family rosary daily in their houses, taking them to daily masses, introducing them to the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and other spiritual gathering.Children should be taught by their parents the need to wear the sacramentals such as medals, scapulas, rosaries etc. they should be taught to read the lives of the saints and the holy bible. If children learn these holy practices from their parents, it will be difficult for them to grow up and become addicted to drug, alcoholics or exhibit any other forms of mischievous behaviors that is common to them today.
There will be serious hope for the future if we begin very early to teach our children by practical examples, what love and forgiveness are. A child who grows up from a family where the mother or the father never forgives will naturally not learn forgiveness overnight unless with divine intervention. Children perfect the art they already learnt from parents in the larger society. A child for instance, who is brought up by a single parent will always lack the warmth of a father or a mother, and such a child will hardly understand what true love or forgiveness is. He either hates the mother or the father, depending who brought him/her up and the stories that he was fed with about the other person.
Marriage is a serious and lasting relationship that only those who are prepared to build a family of love, joy, togetherness, forgiveness and tolerance, can go into. It is not a child’s play. A man is manly enough to marry not because of his age or social statute, but only when his mature enough to tolerate the shortcomings weaknesses of the woman and vice versa.
In conclusion, if we want live a happy family lives, we should learn to tolerate our spouses and children; we should have the courage to say ‘I’m sorry’ when we err; we should be prepared to forgive one another. A happy family is not one without challenges or problems, but one who discovers their problems and begins to seek solutions to them. We should set our priorities right. For instance, our family should come first after God in everything we do. We should not allow anybody or anything come in between us and our family. Family prayer, especially the rosary, should not be optional to any catholic family. A family that does not pray heads to frustration and doom. Each of the spouses should take it as a project to bring the other to heaven.
HAPPY HOLY FAMILY.