Families are today challenged to remain holy. To be holy from today’s second reading is to “put on love”. A holy family is centered on the belief in God and the belonging to the Church. But this believe and belonging cannot remain lifeless, it must take on life to put on love. Our faith must be lived, the family the starting place to experience the love for God and love for others.
Christianity is not a religion but a way of life. Families become less holy if belief is merely a religion. We may have mastered the art of preaching about love but we have not done enough to simply love. Society, and now through the power of social media, have promoted many alternative life styles that when put together have become very confusing choices especially for the young entering the adult world. A holy family must put in place a foundation by promoting Christianity as a life style, a life choice.
To simply love, to desire to do good for the other person is something that comes from deep within a person. This is man’s conscience. A Church document says, “Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment…For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God”
This conscience need to be formed at an early age. This conscience can be trained to discern. And all these begin in early childhood in the nest of a family unit. A holy family provides its nutrients. Parents must inculcate values into their children to take with them on their journey through life. Because one day our young will fly the nest.
A holy family will also always be challenged. Being holy does not immune us from struggles and disappointments. Being holy equip us to face them. Life will always take us down some unexpected paths but being holy tells us that God will always accompany us down these.
One day when our young children fly the nest, they may also tell us that they are leaving the Church. This is something not uncommon today. A family holy will be a family pained. But let us take a page out of the parable of the prodigal son.
Our children will squander all their spiritual riches of a faith life bequeathed them (from being in a holy family) to live in the world without the guidance (or interference of the Church). Like the father in the parable, parents give their reluctant blessings and pray for the children’s spiritual safety. On the foundation from being a holy family, the children will go into the world with a good conscience. As for the parents, love will bear them an aching heart but faith will assure that Christ will not forget one of his own. This too is being a holy family.
I myself am a personal witness to this. I myself have strayed and returned. I am also privileged to work with many returning Catholics. They left, but when they returned they came home stronger and wiser, and in each of them they had a fire burning for a Christian life style.
In our time away we encountered the love God mostly through the love of others, a faith experience that left us transformed. What is common among all of us returned Catholics is that we all came from a holy family.
Feast of the Holy Family