A Family Resemblance

December 29th, 2019 The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph (Cycle A)

Psalm 128:1-5, Sirach 3:2-7;12-14, Colossians 3:12-21, Matthew 2:13-23

God knows all about relationships. The Trinity exists as a unified loving family. When God created man, He bound the two most important aspects of life, happiness and procreation, to marriage and family. To drive this lesson home, the Almighty proved to Adam that even in a perfect environment, such as the Garden of Eden, he could not be happy without his Eve. Then sin entered. They were expelled from the Garden and mankind has been struggling with relationships ever since. God gives us help in our quest to live with each other. The first is by way of example. Today we celebrate the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph as a model of holy living, love, and sacrifice. Admittedly, they are a tough act to follow, but on an important topic as this, we should go big or go home.  We also have scriptural insights like the ones contained in today’s readings. So, let’s explore some principles of “happily ever after” in developing a Christian family life. If we go big on them, then maybe it won’t be so hard for some of us to go home.

Psalm 128:1-5 directs its message to parents: the fear of the Lord brings happiness. Fearing God is just a healthy evaluation of who He is and who you are. Basically, it’s being in a right relationship with Him: worshipping Him, obeying Him, and loving Him. It breeds humility along with respect for others and for self. God shows that through this path you will achieve stability and harmony in your household. Does it have to be Jesus in the morning, Jesus in the evening, and Jesus at suppertime like Ned Flanders and his kids? Probably not, but you don’t want to end up with a wild child like Bart Simpson either. Find a healthy balance that works for you. From this, your kids will develop the next virtue that we will explore in Sirach 3:2-14: honor.

Sirach’s message for children is to honor their parents. It develops from the fear of the Lord, as we see in verse 8 of the chapter, and an appreciation of the sacrifice, and experience given to them from Mom and Dad. It spans the generations. Honor is a source of loving help of children for their elders and the blessings of a long life for the younger generation. It’s a byproduct of family pride as the kids glean associated respect through their parent’s reputation and parents bask in the glow of their children’s achievements. On the other hand, in verse 11, we see disrespect for parents breeds strife, which also runs through the generations.  Tragically, with this scenario, instead of healthy relationships you end up with dysfunction and the parent’s curse, “May you have kids just like you!”

There’s at least one lesson we can tie in with Sirach and the dysfunctional family from our reading in Matthew 2:13-18 about the dark episode of the “Slaughter of the Innocence” …you have an enemy.  Satan hates God and will use any means to erase any semblance of His presence from the world. He dispatched his surrogate, Herod on a seek and destroy mission to kill the Christ child. He will attack your holy family with the same ferocity because it’s the foundation of the next generation of believers. Our adversary’s main strategy is to convince us that, contrary to God’s message about family, happiness comes from pursuing riches, power, and lust. The Devil wants us to think that the Bible’s concept of family relationships is outdated, burdensome, and will only make us miserable. It’s working! Nowadays, few families have escaped the devastation of divorce, abuse, abortion, and other heartaches that this mindset brings. Even in our churches, many of our youth go the world’s way. They are ignorant of God and find Him to be irrelevant in their lives. We are losing this generation. The tide needs to be turned for their sakes and for society’s. That’s why a commitment to a holy family is so vital.

Our reading in Colossians 3:12-21 puts us on that road by teaching us that a holy family develops from holy people. The list of virtues in Colossians is the fruit of the Holy Spirit working in our lives. We are His children. Our Father wants us to show a family resemblance by growing up to be like His Son, Jesus. The Church, our heavenly family, fosters this pursuit of holiness and helps us through the trials and tribulations we will encounter as fallen creatures in a fallen world. Don’t be discouraged. Many of the most famous Bible personalities had very bad family lives. God works all things for good to those who love Him. So, in this New Year, renew your commitment to a contagious holy life that will catch on in the people around you. Seek the Lord in prayer for this. He will answer you. After all, relationships are God’s thing.

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