A Catholic Monthly Magazine

The Holy Family and Holy Families

Fr Kevin Head sm

Fr Kevin Head sm

As we come to the end of 2016, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family, this year on 30 December.

Speaking of families, I’m looking forward to spending time with my sister and her children and grandchildren during the summer holidays. Like all families, the one to which I rejoice to belong is not perfect -- hardly a surprise. As we all know, there is no such thing as a perfect family. Even though we are not perfect, I’m still looking forward to being with and enjoying my family’s company. After all, apart from anything else, they’re the only family I have.

In reflecting on the Holy Family, Patricia Datchuk-Sanchez wrote: ‘By way of angel messengers and dreams, that is, by divine revelation, God makes it clear that whatever was happening to Jesus, Mary and Joseph, was known to him, and it was in accord with his plan. Whatever troubles his friends may experience – and this is true of all families, not just of the holy family – God’s saving plan evolves, and God is ever-present in providential care of his friends.’

It’s sometimes said that Jesus, Mary and Joseph are not a good model for family life. After all, Joseph was a saint, Mary was sinless, and Jesus is God. There’s only one family like that.

If we truly believe that Jesus was fully human, though, then we must allow for the possibility that he sometimes needed to be told off. And being sinless, as Mary was, and a good and holy man, as Joseph was, does not mean that they did not sometimes feel edgy and irritated.

It’s certainly not easy to be a holy family. Even though individual members of our families are holy people, and some are saints, we’ve yet to reach perfection. Some days Murphy’s Law applies: the baby is teething and grizzly, things get broken, tempers get lost, tantrums get thrown, and angry words fly through the air and land with the devastating effect of cluster bombs.

I remember reading some years ago that the best we can do in family life is to try to continue to speak God’s language – and God’s language is the language of love. Ultimately, the language of love is answered with love. The language of love speaks the truth and deals with the issues as well as possible. It does not sweep the troubles and the problems under the carpet where they will fester away and stink the place up. It deals with them honestly, sensitively, and carefully.

It is not always easy to say we are sorry, nor to acknowledge being hurt. It’s important to do these things, though, because it is through honest, respectful communication that we grow into the families that in our heart of hearts we want to be.

Love also realises that not all problems are able to be solved, and that sometimes, perhaps often, the serenity prayer * applies. And as well, it’s good to keep in mind that ‘God’s saving plan evolves, and God is ever-present in providential care of his friends.’

May Jesus, Mary and Joseph protect, and may God bless your holy family!

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

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