Your Mission as a Christian Family

Feast of the Holy Family

Gen 15: 1-6; 21: 1-3; Col 3: 12-21; Luke 2: 22-40

Dc. Larry Brockman


Today is a really special day for our Parish because this is our Feast Day, the feast of Holy Family.  And our parish is named after the Holy Family for good reason, because the family is critical to the well-being of all of its members physically and spiritually; and the Holy family is God’s revelation to us of what family is all about.   

The first thing we should take notice of is that the Holy Family was not like the Norman Rockwell poster picture of the ideal American Family at all.  We know that Mary was a teen who had a child out of wedlock; that the child was born away from home in difficult circumstances and placed in a manger; and that the Holy Family fled for fear of the authorities after the birth, becoming refugees in a flight to Egypt, living in a tent in a foreign country for months.  We know that when Joseph brought his family back, he was a poor laborer, a simple carpenter, working in a remote area  of Israel; and that Jesus was lost in the temple at age 12, with his parents returning days later in panic to try to find him.  At some time in his life, Jesus became an orphan.  After that, He was responsible for his mother Mary as Jewish society dictated.  Yes, the Holy Family experienced a rocky road.   

In fact, what we have described would be described today as a blended, poor family with many hardships.  Why, then is the Holy Family so special?  Well, because of the values that the Holy Family lived while facing all those hardships. 

All of us are products of our environment to some extent. The Holy Family was no different.   Indeed, Jesus became a role model for all of us as he rose above all the difficulties in perfect harmony with His Father.   

How did this happen; how did Jesus manage to grow up in perfection despite the fact that the environment the Holy Family lived in was not the picture of a perfect family?  Basically, it happened because the Holy Family shows us how one can live a difficult life and still be loving and obedient and faithful to God’s will.   

We know that Mary was loving and obedient to God’s will.  Despite the very special role she knew she would play as the Mother of the Son of God, she was not haughty and self-absorbed.  Rather, Mary nurtured Jesus as mothers do, and was submissive to her husband Joseph.  We know little of Joseph from the Bible.  But we see that Joseph is a loving committed husband and parent, and that he was obedient to God’s will for him also.  Joseph put his family first; and at the same time, was the provider for his family.  And we know that Jesus loved and supported his parents; the bible tells us Jesus was obedient during his childhood “in all things”.   

You know, we were all made in the image and likeness of God.  But there’s more to it than that.  God has revealed to us that he is relationship.  Yes, the Trinity is a relationship between the three persons in one God.  God is not “all alone up there”; rather, He is a relationship- Father Son, and Spirit.   

So, not only were we made in his image and likeness as individuals; but we are made in his image and likeness in relationship too.  The primary relationship that mirrors God is called our family.  God the Father is the architect of all life.  He begot his only Son, who has been with him forever.  And the expression of the love; the energy and charisma of that relationship between the Father and Son, is the Holy Spirit.   

The family mirrors that special relationship of the Trinity- the Father is head of the family.  Fathers are joined together in a relationship of love with their spouses, and they “become one”.  The expression of the love between moms and dads is the children, who mirror the Holy Spirit.   

Now I mentioned love and obedience in the Holy Family.  Love implies a whole lot of things- self-sacrifice, mutual respect, forbearance, and presence for example.  Likewise, obedience implies a lot of things as well-  like belonging to a hierarchy, knowing one’s place, mutual cooperation, and respecting authority.  These are all values that we can learn from the experience of the Holy Family.  They are byproducts of the ultimate in relationship- the Trinity.  And this is God’s way of revealing His plan for the Kingdom of Heaven as well.   

I believe it is God’s intent that we build on the family by projecting the family structure and values forward.   First, the family relationship is perpetuated generation after generation through itself.  We dedicate our children in Baptism to live a life as Christians.   And they go off and do the same, spreading the faith and the Gospel along the way.  They do that by praying together and learning about role models in real life situations from their parents and family.  They learn from their parents about the prime of life; and they learn from their elders- especially grandparents- how fragile life is and that life in this world is not the end.  Finally, they learn from the saints, and from the Gospel, to love as Jesus loved.   

For all of this to happen, this basic cell of our society, the family needs support.  That is where the Church comes in.  Indeed, the Church is our “mother” collectively.  We are called to belong to that larger family, as well as the Diocese, and the whole Church.  And belonging means participating- as we worship weekly here at Mass, partaking of Communion with the mystical body of Christ, and participating in parish events and activities; just as we worship by prayer in our homes; and participate in family activities.   

Our families then become part of a very important mission.  In fact, it is that mission that gives meaning to our lives.  We are called to evangelize in word and deed by living the example of the Holy Family.  That example will speak loudly to all our brothers and sisters in the secular world.  This is how the whole Western World was converted to Christianity in the first millennia after Christ- through the example of the individual Christian families and the collective family, the Church.  Nowadays, our secular World is ready and ripe for another conversion because our society seems to be losing touch with the family values Jesus taught us.   

Today, each family here will receive a free book called “Mission of the Family” as you leave the Church.  I appeal to each of you to read this book; it is a quick read.  This book makes some of the same arguments I have just made, plus many more.   

At a time when the secular world is walking away from traditional family values, it is important that we Christians take a stand for God’s plan in the world.  The Holy Family taught us that family relationships mirror the Trinity, with primary values such as obedience, love, and Faith in God.  This is God’s plan for this world. 

Your mission, if you decide to accept it, is to spread that message by living as a Christian Family and supporting the Church’s effort to evangelize that model to the whole world.

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