Saturday, December 26, 2009

God at the Centre: The Holy Family

Holy Family Year C

Which is the greatest school of life? Is it the primary school where you attended classes from Standards 1 to 6? Is it the secondary school or for some of you the university where you continued your studies? Not one of these is the greatest school of life. Not even the Church where we receive our faith education and catechism. The family is the greatest school of life. It is in the family where we learn what it means to be a person, to be a citizen, to be a Christian, and to God’s children.

The family is the place where we learn to trust in and depend on others. The family is the place where we are loved and we learn to love. Today, the family as the school of life is under threat. We see so many broken families; families where husbands and wives are not communicating to each other; families where children are not communicating with their parents. The rate of divorce is on the increase. When people are not able to find happiness in their own marriage, they look for other partners. Many are sending their elderly parents into homes for the aged because it is too inconvenient to care for them. Children see more of their maids and babysitters than their own parents. There is so much pain, anger and frustration in our families. Parents give up on educating their own children especially when they become teenagers and often leave it others, to the school and the church, to deal with their problems. Do all of these sound sad and hopeless? Well, today’s feast of the Holy Family reminds us that all is not hopeless. All is not hopeless when we are prepared to make God and our faith the center of our lives again.

The Holy Family was not a perfect family. They too had their problems. For example, we hear of one incident in today’s gospel where Jesus’ goes missing. Joseph and Mary must have been both worried as well as angry. Any ordinary parent would? It’s not wrong to be angry especially when wrong things are done. It’s not wrong to discipline our children. In fact, it is the responsibility of parents to discipline their children and teach them the right values. Mary in today’s gospel also reprimanded Jesus: “My child, why have you done this to us? See how worried your father and I have been, looking for you.” The Holy Family is just like any other ordinary family – we remember them as the ‘holy’ family and not as the ‘perfect’ family. It is most likely that they had their disagreements and arguments, just like all other families. They may have experience disappointment and tension, just like all other families. But, what sets them apart from other families is their faith in God. They understood that a family is never truly a family unless God is made the center of it.

When God becomes the center of the family, we become to treat each other with true love because God is Love. How can there be love in a family if God is absent? No family can survive without love. The love of God reminds us that our children are not our possession, they belong to God. The love of God reminds us that our husbands and our wives are not our property, they belong to God. The love God reminds us that love is primarily about giving, even when one doesn’t seem to receive anything in return.

If we make God the center of our lives and the lives of our family, does this mean that all our problems will be solved? No. We will continue to have problems, but we believe that the God will not abandon us. He is ever faithful. If we remain faithful to him, he will remain faithful to us. And it is the faithfulness of God that will help you to overcome every obstacle and problem that you may face as a family.

My dear parents, today, I ask you to recommit yourselves again to one another as husbands and wives. Remember the promises you’ve made to one another on the day of your wedding. Today, I also want you to recommit yourselves to your children as parents. I hope you remembered the promise you made to God and his church on the day of your child’s baptism – the promise to bring them up according to the Catholic Faith. This calls for you to live up to your identity as Catholics. This calls for you to deepen your faith so that you can be an example of faith to your children. This calls for you to pray as a family. So many problems arise in today’s family when they stop praying together as a family. If you have failed to allow God to be center of your lives, if you have failed to remember him especially in your relationships to one another as a family, ask God for forgiveness and the strength to recommit yourselves to family life.

My dear children, the Lord reminds you today to listen and honour your parents. But more importantly, you must constantly listen to God. Make God the center of your lives. One day, you too will become parents and start your own family. I hope that God would also be the center of your family life.

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