May God bless each of you in his mercy, and protect all our families!
Solemnity of the Holy Family
Sirach 3:2-7, 12-14; Col 3:12-21; Luke 2:22-40
December 26/27, 2020
More and more I have been thinking about the effect society has on our families, on how they live, and are defined. The readings today give us a model for family life that is increasingly being ridiculed in modern society.
Nobody’s family is perfect. We all know that. We are imperfect people in an imperfect world using imperfect means in our attempts to be perfected. If it is perfection we seek, then we must look at the Holy Family to find it. God has given them to us as a model for which to strive, but also He gives us the strength, when the occasion arises, to live as they lived.
St. Joseph was an exemplary father and husband. He protected Mary from public shame and death by taking her into his home as his wife even though he knew he was not the father of the child in her womb. He later sensed an external danger to his family and in the middle of the night took Mary and Jesus on a long journey to Egypt to protect them from Herod.
Mary was a perfect mother. She nourished and fed Jesus. She no doubt caressed him and sustained his humanity. Mary did all in her power to stand by her son during his suffering. She never abandoned him. Her heart and his heart were united throughout his Passion and death. The bond between Mary and Jesus was never severed, not even now they are united in heaven.
We who are parents need to step into the breach, as Joseph and Mary did, to defend and nourish our families. We who are fathers must imitate Joseph and protect them from the dangers to which they are exposed in today’s world. This is our duty in the Lord! It is a serious betrayal of our wives and our children if we fail to make the effort.
Fathers, we are the front-line defenders of family life. We are given, by the grace of God and by human nature, the ability to sense what is externally harmful to our families and we have the strength to move to intercept anything which may pose a serious threat to them.
Fathers, how well are we protecting our families? You know as well as I, that they are under attack by our culture. We have heard of how some children and women have been abused by clergymen, school teachers, and others. We all have the same gut reaction to this. Our children and wives are also being harmed by the trend to normalize abortion, transgenderism, the masculinization of women, and feminization of men, and the redefinition of marriage. How can we protect our families from this? The economy in which we work tempts us to put work first and family second. It often encourages us to divide ourselves and our time, to prioritize money over being present as a father and husband. How are we responding to this?
Fathers, we must know our children! To be known by one’s father is a strong protection against the effects of social and personal evils. Knowing you are known by your dad keeps you safe and secure. Even the behavioral sciences affirm this. Yes, we must know our children and let ourselves be known by them as a way of protecting them.
You who are our spiritual fathers in the Church, this applies to you as well. The willingness to protect, to know and be known, and to nourish your spiritual children, is imperative. Do not fear doing what you must to protect the family God has given you. You must protect your children.
Mothers, you are the inner guard. You are gifted with an intuitive knowledge of what will nourish your children and what will starve them. You know what is necessary for them to become good parents. Mothers, you fight with your lives to meet your children’s emotional needs, and you stand by your husbands in defending your children from external threats.
Mothers, you must remain connected to your children from the moment of conception until natural death intervenes. The cumulative knowledge of the ages has taught us that the strength of the maternal bond with a child (regardless of the child’s age) prevents a multitude of problems in life. Almost always, anything that severs that maternal connection is at best unhealthy and at worst deadly to a son or daughter.
Mothers, remain connected! Fathers, know your children and be known by your children! Through the intercession of Blessed Mary and St. Joseph may all our families experience the peace and security we so very much want for them in this world.
Remember, no family is perfect. God provides what we may lack of our own resources. Faith in Him will give us all we may need to care for the families He has entrusted to us.