I find it clever, even devious, that the Church would place this feast of the Holy Family in the midst of Christmas. A time of great joy, cheer, and food; but also a time when we are around our families much more than usual, and therefore a time when we find ourselves perhaps more irritated and impatient with those we are supposed to love.
Let’s begin with realizing Jesus was taught by Mary and Joseph how to pray. What did Mary and Joseph teach Jesus? To understand how and what Mary and Joseph taught Jesus in methods of prayer, we first must understand the Jewish notion of prayer. Jewish prayer can be summed up under three categories, and from these three types of prayer, we find how a family can become a holy family.
The three types of prayer Mary and Joseph would have taught Jesus was:
- Prayers of Blessings
- Prayers of Praise
- Prayers of Remembering
So the three suggestions of how to make your family a holy family is to:
- Always bless
- Always praise
- Always remember
Every time I see him, I know what he will say: “Thank you” and “what a great job you did, or are doing.” Often I try to bypass such compliments, but he won’t let me. He genuinely means it. For him, the basis of his relationship with you is praise and support.
Nobody likes to be around a complainer. Of course, there are appropriate times for complaining, but we ourselves get tired of just complaining, and so do our family and friends.
QUOTE FROM JESUS;
At that time Jesus exclaimed:
“I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to the childlike.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father.
No one knows the Son except the Father,
and no one knows the Father except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”
To make your family a holy family, always praise.
All is a blessing.
A blessing is something imparted upon.
When a person comes to a priest for a blessing of a car, they want the car to receive a blessing, not changed. Of course some would like to see their Ford Focus changed into a BMW, but a blessing is conferred upon. Like a blanket, covering and enveloping it.
Jesus understood blessings. He said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit…blessed are they who morn…blessed are the meek…
Rather than seeing weaknesses of poverty, morning, meekness as a curse, Jesus “blesses” these absences or evils. Making something bad or difficult, into a manner of receiving God’s blessings.
We could the do same in our families. Rather than seeing what we do not have, we look and give gratitude and blessing for what we DO have. Doing this makes us a good steward, rather than a greedy person.
To make your family a holy family, always bless.
“Do this in remembrance of me!” Jesus told his apostles, having learned the lesson of “remembering” from his childhood home well. To not remember is to be doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past, I believe Benjamin Franklin taught. If he did not say it, it sounds like something he would write.
Some time ago, I overheard one of my employees speak about the history of the Spiritual Life Retreat Center to one of our guests. While what was said was true, it was very incomplete. In further conversation with the employee, I realized they were speaking from a limited knowledge. They did not know the story.
Having been part of the building and seeing the process in which the center and complex was built, I realized I had failed to “tell the story,” thus new stories were beginning to replace the real story. Not maliciously, but out of ignorance.
If a story is not told and retold, then bits and pieces of a story are retold; and suddenly you have a new story, even a fable.
The Jewish people understood the importance of remember the story. The story of Exodus is the pivotal moment of their history. The Passover, celebrated every year; the event in which our Lord used to give us the Eucharist, the Passover is the retelling of the story of the Israelites exodus out of the slaver of Egypt.
As Christians, we will fail if we forget the story. As a family, we fail if we don’t pass down our family stories and stories of faith. What is your families “exodus” story? What is your “Passover story?”
To make your family a holy family, always remember.
Feast of the Holy Family
Yes, it might be rather conniving for the Church to place this feast of the Holy Family in the midst of Christmas, but I hope you find these suggestions applicable.
While I live alone, I come from a family. Today I do not have a family that I live with, but like Jesus, have been asked by God the Father to create a family:
“ Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 And pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
When Mary and Joseph taught Jesus to pray in blessing, praise, and remembrance, they also taught him how to create a holy family from his followers.
If you want to make your family a Holy Family then:
- Always bless
- Always praise
- And, Always remember