The family is the basic building block of society, like bricks in a wall. When we look at the concept of family, we see that it is definitely part of God’s plan of salvation for humanity. Will we be open to God’s plan or not? The evil one is trying to destroy the family so he can destroy society. When we look around at all the ills in society, we see that the root of these ills is usually some problem with the family. When family members are at each other’s throats, usually someone in the family is living outside the State of Grace.
We learn from others how to live, and God’s plan for this is the family. It’s the setting where new people experience life. It is also in the family setting where people encounter God. We hear in the Gospel today that the Holy Family had a custom of making a pilgrimage to the temple for Passover every year. This is a call to action for parents. The only way the next generation will know what is important is through the example of their parents. Children can pick up on what’s important just like they pick up the language. Religious customs are so important that Mary and Joseph even showed them to Jesus, and he is God. Are the children being prepared to be citizens of the Kingdom of God or merely citizens of the world?
Holiness is the goal. Everything a parent does for a child should be out of love for the child. If love means to do what is best for another person, then a parent should make sure their children are on the right track for becoming saints. Our earthly life is very brief. Eternal life with God is the ultimate good, and that should be the goal of every parent for their children. Education and sports are good things too, but they should be means to the end goal of eternal life, not ends in themselves. Getting children on the right track as Christians is the work of the family.
This family setting fosters authentic human growth and development. How do we know if it is authentic? It leads to truth and love. And we move beyond ourselves and learn to be in communion with others and with God. Grace from the sacrament of marriage facilitates this task. It is poured upon the family at the marriage of the mother and father. My family is living proof if this grace. But I better not tell any stories.
The key is to be open to this grace by being open to the Holy Spirit, who pours out the love of the Father that is made visible to us in Jesus Christ. Parents then make this love visible in their lives. Not being open to the work of the Holy Spirit leads to the ills that kill families. The family is crucial to the Christian life. Perhaps this is why Jesus says what he does about divorce.
Then we encounter another list of tactics the evil one uses to bring society down by making families weak: Fornication leading to Single parenting or Abortion; Cohabitation outside of marriage leading to a 75% divorce rate; Contraception and Sterilizations tempting spouses to treating each other as objects; Lack of child supervision – What are they watching on TV? What are they doing with their smart phones?
The family is automatically holy because it is part of God’s plan. But we remember that holy does not mean perfect or automatically successful. All families have their problems and crosses to bear. But what makes us holy is how we respond to the problems that we face. Even the Holy Family we celebrate today had their little mix-up we heard about in the Gospel. They remained holy because of their love for God and each other. May all families strive to do the same.