Dec 30 (Feast of the Holy Family)

There goes a story about a family, in the US, that was struggling to survive during the Great Economic Depression in the 1940’s…

>> The father of the family had lost his job, and they moved to the city to find work.

They couldn’t afford to buy their own house, so they lived in the basement of someone else’s house, paying a large rent for the tiny space.

It was not the most comfortable or coziest situation…

… Mom, Dad, and Five Children cramped into a mouldy basement.

But they made the best of it by pouring as much love as they could into little things.

>> They kept the place neat and clean.

>> They had their small and sparse meals together every day.

>> They said their prayers each morning and each evening as a family.

>> They even pitched in to help other families who were in even more difficult situations.

One day, one of the children’s school teachers came by to visit the family.

>> She was shocked at the cramped quarters and the poverty of the family.

The next day at school the teacher took the little girl aside and tried to comfort her.

>> She said, “I am so sorry that you don’t even have a home to live in!”

But the little girl was surprised and answered:

“Oh no!

>> We have a wonderful “home”…

… it is just that we are still looking for a “house” to put it in!!”

The li’l girl did not have a proper house, but she had a wonderful home!

>> The family was constricted into a tiny space, but they had much space for each other in their hearts!

Yea, it’s the “little things in life” that can make the biggest difference.

Often times, we have a grand house but a very poor home…

We have many big things: a three-car garage, a home movie theatre, football-sized rooms, latest of communication & entertainment gadgets etc…

But very often, something essential is missing…

Is it true?

>> Are we living in a “House” or in a “Home”?

Today Holy Mother Church takes delight in celebrating the Feast of the Holy Family of Nazareth.

>> This was a home with much joy and peace, though it struggled to have even a proper house.

The Holy Family of Nazareth is often considered as the perfect and ideal family.

In which sense is it perfect and ideal?

>> Free from problems…

>> Lack of tensions…

>> Absence of worries and fears…

>> No tension of financial constraints…

>> Abundance of wealth…

Well… if these are the yardsticks to define a perfect and ideal family, the Holy Family of Nazareth would be too far from it…

This “ideal” and “perfect” family of Nazareth had to undergo many severe crises, as in any of our families…

>> The young Mary had to face an unplanned pregnancy…

… She was thrown between a choice to “face stoning for death” or “placing hope in God.”

>> The just man Joseph had the dilemma of accepting a lady who could be doubted by society…

… He faced the challenge of divorcing his to-be-wife or to accept her in faith and trust.

>> Joseph and Mary failed to find a proper place even to have the birth of their child…

… at the middle of the night, they had to abandon their only place of refuge and fly to Egypt…

As we have in the Gospel of the Day, at the age of twelve, Jesus gets lost and His words to them are not understood by the parents…

… a few years into boyhood, Jesus loses Joseph, his caring Father and the young Mary becomes a widow…

Are these “ideal” or “perfect” situations for a family?

Then, how do we say that the Holy Family of Nazareth is an “ideal” and “perfect” family?

We must understand that Idealness and Perfection…

… comes not as a result of absence of problems and difficulties.

… is attributed not because of being free from any risks or challenges.

Rather, Idealness and Perfection…

… is ascribed because They chose to trust and hope in God always!

… is credited because They sought to walk as per the Will of God always!

They were able to move beyond a “house” and build a “home”…

… because They had God as their Ultimate Refuge and They always sought and listened to what God wanted in Their lives!

What about our families?

Today, unlike any other time in the history of the world, a family or a community faces severe challenges…

>> Consumerism and materialism ruins the fabric of a family…

>> Individualism and self-priorities hampers the structure of a family…

>> Failure to understand and readiness to abandon each other becomes quick solutions…

>> Media and other “sources of knowledge” bombard minds with many alternative lifestyles…

As a family and a community, we today, stand before the Crib and gaze on the “Ideal” and “Perfect” family of Nazareth…

>> They had Their own issues and problems…

>> They had their own sets of difficulties.

We might argue, that their problems are nothing compared to what we are going through.

Yet, the method and style of handling and tackling the problems remains the same…

>> Seeking to do God’s Will…

>> Being the strength to each other in rough times…

>> Being steadfastly faithful to one another in every crisis…

The Holy Family…

… challenges us to place unity and love as the prominent concerns.

… exhorts us to trust God in all situations and have God as the highest priority

… invites us to understand and accept each other and love the other as they are

As we celebrate this Feast of the Holy Family today, let us seek to cultivate (or revive) some (or all) of the following good practices in our families…

1. Coming together for Family Prayer, everyday without fail – and reciting especially the Holy Rosary

2. Making Sunday a special family day – reading/studying a portion of the Bible together, keeping away the TV/mobile for some time at least and spending time specially together

3. Creating a sacred space in the house with holy images/icons – becoming an area of prayer

4. Children seeking blessings from parents before going out

5. Having a small font for Holy Water in the house and regularly blessing oneself

6. Practicing “one virtue a month” together as a family

7. Celebrating “one saint a week/month” – by having special prayers (and) (or) learning more about the Saint

8. Reading a small portion of the “Catechism of the Catholic Church” during Family Prayers

9. Going out together as a family – once in a month/three months/ six months/whenever convenient – to reach out in service to someone in need

10. Reading the passages of the Bible (1st Reading, 2nd Reading and Gospel) before going for Mass on Sundays

11. Having meals together – and avoiding electronic gadgets, books during meals

12. Each member of the family making a small prayer- in one’s own personal words – during family prayer.

13. Holding the hands of each other with forgiveness and joy in the heart sometime during family prayer / giving a meaningful sign of peace and joy after the prayer

14. Reciting the Divine Mercy Chaplet

15. Insisting on confession at least every month (or maximum once-in-two-months)

… and many many more!

Yes…

… We need to build and mould our families lovingly, inspired by the Holy Family of Nazareth.

>> Let us move from being just “house-makers” to being “home-makers”…

>> Let us go beyond the fleeting concept of “houses” to build everlasting and loving “homes”…

Are we living in a House or in a Home?

Happy Feast of the Holy Family of Nazareth to all our Families!

God bless! Live Jesus!

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