Family Values Make a Home


Feast of Holy Family

Sir 3: 2-6, 12-14; 1John 3: 1-2, 21-24; Luke 2: 41-52

Dc. Larry Brockman

“I’ll be Home for Christmas”- a wartime song that’s become a Christmas favorite.  Everybody wants to be home for Christmas.  Everybody wants to belong; to share the joy.  But, just what is a home?   

Once there was a family of four in the Midwest, where the dad lost his job.  They moved to the city so the dad could look for work.  They were very poor, so, they ended up living in someone else’s house in the basement, paying exorbitant rent for a cramped musty space.  But, they did what they could to make it their home.  They kept it neat and clean, and arranged it as best they could.  They ate their meals together, and they prayed together as a family.  Whenever they could, they also tried to help those who were less fortunate than they were by sharing what they did have in hospitality.   

One day, one of the children’s teachers visited them.  She was shocked at the poverty and the cramped, moldy, basement they were living in.  The next day at school, the teacher took the child aside and said to her: “I am so sorry you don’t have a home to live in”.  The little girl was surprised, and replied innocently:  “Oh no, we have a wonderful home; we’re just still looking for a house to put it in”.[1]    

Indeed, the most important thing about a home, is that it be a warm, loving place for the family that lives in it.  A large house with lots of rooms doesn’t necessarily mean a good home.  Values, family values, lived out in a spirit of love- that’s what makes a home.   

This morning, we hear about family values in all three of our scriptures.  First, Sirach emphasizes the necessity for us to honor each other.  And it’s a multi-generational type of honor that Sirach describes: Sirach speaks to children honoring their parents; parents respecting their children, and adults honoring and respecting their elderly family members.  Honor and respect can be hard in a fast paced society, where we become easily impatient and even intolerant of each other.  But honor and respect are essential to good relations in our families.  So take the time and make the effort to honor each other.   

And then, in the second reading, we hear about real love- the kind of love that God has for us.  It is likened to love of children.  In fact, we are called children of God.  At this time of year, we all have a great opportunity to observe the kind of love that God has for his children.  Because moms and dads, grandpas and grandmas alike love to lavish their children with gifts and affection.  It brings the children joy, but there’s an even deeper sense of joy in the gift giver.  It’s the same way with God and his children.  God lavishes us with gifts all the time- the gift of life; the gift of our talents; the gift of our loved ones, and yes, even the gift of our limitations.  And like our children and grandchildren, sometimes we are so busy playing with our gifts, that we don’t recognize the love that goes with them- an abiding sense of unconditional love from the heart of the gift giver.  Love of this kind is a key family value.   

And lastly, there’s the Gospel.   Jesus is found in the temple after his frantic parents saw that he was missing for three days.  Like many young people, Jesus was anxious to get on with his life, even if he was just 12, and although he was “wowing” the teachers with his insights, he responded to his Mom and Dad by going with them.  In very simple terms- he was obedient to them.  Another essential value in a good family is obedience.  Obedience makes the whole family function as a unit.  There is a time and a place for our independence.  But, within our families, we need to live our designated roles with obedience- obedience to God- because he placed you in your family, and obedience to your role within the family, whatever it is; the head of the family role; the nourishing role; the caretaker role; the role of the disciplinarian; the teaching role; and the learning role, like the one Jesus took in this morning’s Gospel.  Because children of God need to “advance in wisdom and age and favor before God and man”, just like Jesus did.   

Honor, Love, and Obedience- three essential values that the Holy Family exhibited; three essential values for our families as well.  What can you do to make them happen in your families?  Well, you can make the first move to bring these values to life.  Making the first move means not waiting for others to do something, but taking the initiative yourself.  In a family quarrel, don’t wait for the other person to apologize first.  Instead, make the first move.  Or when you notice that a sibling or other family member is having a bad day, or a bad week, don’t wait for them to come to you for support; make the first move.  If you know that something you do bothers someone else in the house, don’t wait for them to complain before you stop doing it; make the first move.  Choose to love your family members by sacrificing your preferences occasionally for their sake, just as Jesus sacrificed himself for us on the cross.  And then, watch your family prosper, growing in wisdom and favor and age before God and man. 

[1] Adopted from Msgr. Arthur Tonne’s “Stories for Sermons”

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