Friday, December 26, 2014

Solemnity of the Holy Family

Readings: Numbers 6:22-27; Galatians 4:4-7; Luke 2:16-27

Transforming the family, faithfulness and family spirituality are the key words that help us focus on the message of this Sunday. The solemnity of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, is celebrated on the Sunday after Christmas, mainly to remind us that Christmas is a family feast and that Jesus was born and raised in a family just like us. But first a story. There is a story about a young lawyer who lived quite a distance from her elderly father. Months had passed since they had been together and when her father called to ask when she might visit, the daughter detailed a list of reasons that prevented her from taking the time to see him. She had court schedule, meetings, new clients, research, etc., etc. At the end of her recitation, the father asked, “When I die, do you intend to come to my funeral?” The daughter’s response was immediate, “Dad, I can’t believe you’d ask that! Of course, I’ll come!” To which the father replied, “Good. Forget the funeral and come; I need you more now than I will then.”

What is the relationship between family and stewardship as a way of life?  Matthew Kelly has come up with another book entitled Building Better Families: A Practical Guide to Raising Amazing Children.  Have you ever asked yourself, “What does God want for my family?” I am sure you still recall that often quoted sentence of Matthew Kelly: “Transforming people one at a time is at the very heart of God’s plan for the world.” This incredible plan of God applies to the family too. God has an incredible plan for transforming the family into what it should be: a place where each of us can become the-best-version-of-ourselves. In the book Matthew Kelly presents some compelling suggestions for transforming the family: a daily routine for family prayer, simplicity life, a family culture of sharing time, family meals and a sense of mission. We only have time to consider family prayer. The media frequently reminds us of the current national divorce rate of roughly 50%.  An interesting fact Kelly points out is that 1 in 2000 couples who pray together on regular basis end their marriage with divorce.  The statistical difference is amazing and certainly reinforces the teaching that “the family that prays together stays together.”  Our lives can and will be transformed by sacred scripture and by a strong relationship with God, but this can only take place if we make time to get to know God and to talk to God.  The key here is letting your kids see you spending time in prayer, letting them see you make this time a priority, teaching your kids the skills of prayer just as you teach them so many other skills, teaching them to turn to God for guidance in times of joy and of happiness, and teaching them to listen for God’s voice in their lives.  The important question is: How can our children grow to know and love God and time in prayer if we do not bring that time to them every day?  Kelly poses two challenging questions for parents:  Do your kids know more about Disney characters or pop stars than they know about sacred scripture, the life of Jesus, and the Saints?  Do we want our kids emulating the TV characters, or do we want them imitate faithful and heroic lives?  If we expect our kids to follow God, we need to teach them the best way to live. Parents just like Mary and Joseph are the family catechists. One may say that Mary and Joseph lived a family spirituality centered on Jesus: they learnt to look at Jesus with eyes of faith; to listen to him with attention and to meditate on the unfolding mystery of the Son of God in their midst. But above all, they loved each other. The message we take home is that God has incredible plan of transforming each family into what it should be: a place where each of us can become the best version of ourselves.

©2014 John S. Mbinda

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