I remember growing up as a child. We live in a rented flat and our door was always open. So was our neighbour’s. The children used to run into both flats, into kitchens and bedrooms. There was no restricted access. There was no need to preach about ‘being in community’, it came about quite naturally.
Today all doors are closed, securely locked. As we achieved progress and modernise, we became insecure. Perhaps we now have things to lose. We jealously guard them. Fear of not having the best make us competitive with one another. And plus, we need our privacy too.
What goes on behind closed doors? Family lifestyles would have surely changed in the last 30 to 40 years. We needed to. We could not have stood still in time. But perhaps in the excitement of embracing everything new, we became unguarded about protecting our family values and our part among other families around us. When we closed our door, did we also close out relationships and love for those around us? Did we turn neighbours into strangers?
We all want to do the best for our families. There is nothing wrong with this; in fact it is one of our major vocation in life. But often we get confused by wanting the best for our families. The danger is that we start to hide behind the noble intention for family and our every action is solely dedicated to our family, even at the expense of our spiritual values. We become competitive because we understand that ‘to be first and to have’ is for the good of our family.
Who is the family unit? If this is just an extension of ‘self’ in the sense that we only care for our family, then would that not be an extension of selfishness? Of still only caring for ‘self’ but with family members included in the definition of ‘self’?
The family unit is where we first encounter love. It is where we first experience being loved and taught to love. As a grandparent there is no greater fulfilment of life than to see the children loving their children. This is the way true love will flow. One receive to give. From parent to child, from Father to Son. The more we give, the more we receive. Love grows us all.
Behind those closed doors, we must rethink our family lifestyles and their spiritual values. When we close the family door to others apart from our own family members, we may think that we doing good by keeping maximum love for our family. When love does not flow, love dies. Darnels grow on fertile ground alongside wheat. We must be careful not to allow the darnel of selfishness to grow alongside the wheat of family love.
The nature of love cannot be harboured but must flow on. Often we are asked to serve in church ministries and often our replies suggest that we are too busy with family. We are engrossed in our career because we want the best for family. Perhaps a better reply may simply be to open the family door. A family who are capable to love beyond themselves is a holy family.
Have a happy and holy 2018!
The Holy Family