The Gift of a Family

(I would like to share with you this reflection I wrote for the Feast of the Holy Family last December).

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. We are celebrating the gift of a Family! God himself wanted to be born within a family to be nurtured and educated. We learn to love and live within our families as Jesus did.

We know that Jesus is fully human and fully divine; this is why we can say that he learned his values and virtues from his parents. Virtues like generosity, respect, love, truthfulness, honesty among many others. Saint Joseph also taught him his workmanship that allowed him to make a living. Saint Joseph was a carpenter, through his work he was able to provide for his family and give glory to God. How do you imagine their relationship?

There is one scene from the movie “The Passion of the Christ” that moved me very much.  Is the scene when Jesus is working on a dining set and Mary comes to tell him that lunch is ready. After, the movie shows them both been playful with each other…I guess this could have been part of their day to day conversation. That scene is full of tenderness and love. It amazes me because it shows Jesus working to provide for his mother whom He loved very much. Second, because it shows the relationship that probably they both had, their sense of humor and service to each other. I think that among many other scenes that the producers had to cut off to make it to the theaters, they left that one because it is in the heart of his own family that he cultivated his gifts, virtues and talents that made him fully available to respond to the Father’s Plan for himself and for the whole humanity, to give His life on the Cross so that we may live.

The family is the heart of our society because it is in the family that every human being learns to respond to God’s plan. How do we respond to God’s plan? We respond by choosing every day to do good or evil. I think that the Holy Family gave a deeper meaning to family life and to the vocation of marriage. A man and a woman give themselves fully to love and to be loved, becoming a living and fruitful sign of God's love in the world. We have been created to love and to be loved and we learn how to live it within our families.

Pope Benedict XVI said "The Holy Family is an icon of the domestic Church, which is called to pray together. The family is the first school of prayer where, from their infancy, children learn to perceive God thanks to the teaching and example of their parents. An authentically Christian education cannot neglect the experience of prayer. If we do not learn to pray in the family, it will be difficult to fill this gap later. I would, then, like to invite people to rediscover the beauty of praying together as a family, following the school of the Holy Family of Nazareth".

The constant attacks to the family in our culture today are stunning…we need to be aware that the heart of our society is the family and if our society is in crisis, then the family is in crisis too. Is also important to remember that we are sinners and the effects of our sin in society are many.

It is possible that many of us didn’t have a perfect family, and the experiences we had may have influenced the way we think about and live our own family life. However, we are not determined by our past or weaknesses. When a runner trains for a race, he won’t be able to reach his victory if he only sees his weakness. He trains because he knows that it is in working out to overcome his weaknesses that he will be able to reach the victory. We are born to be happy and to help those around us to reach their own happiness. Let us look at the Holy Family of Nazareth and follow their example of love.

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