Feast of the Holy Family | Ximena DeBroeck

Feast of the Holy Family 

by Ximena DeBroeck

Sir. 3:2-6, 12-14 / Ps.128:1-2, 3, 4-5 / 1 Thes. 5:16-24 / John 1:6-8, 19-28
Every Family is Called to be Holy

We know from experience that families are as diverse as individuals are. From biblical times, we have seen how diverse families are, and how many challenges families face. The ancestry of Jesus, presented in the first chapter of Matthew, consists of individuals who came from all walks of life, some righteous, some sinners, some outcasts, and yet Jesus, his mother, and his earthly father, are considered a holy family… But what about the rest of us? Can our families be holy? Absolutely yes, our families can also be holy! As different as each family is, all families are called to be holy. Since every person has been created in the image and likeness of God, every person bears the image of the Holy One, and therefore, everyone is called to be holy.

Today’s first reading from the book of Sirach, also called Ecclesiasticus, offers us essential foundations for a holy family. Although written approximately two centuries before the birth of Christ, its message still applies to our lives today. The authority and honor of parents over children is a gift from God. Children who obey and respect their mother and father are blessed. Additionally, there is a special counsel to take care of an aging parent. In a way, Sirach advises us to give back to our aging parents, what they gave us when we were infants and young children.

In his preaching to one of the early Christian communities, Paul gives a ‘code of conduct’ of sorts, or we can say, he gives them practical advice, which will guide them in becoming the holy people they were called to be. The same applies to us today. In spite of the hurt that can happen in families, we are called to forgive one another, and to treat one another with heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. And over all these, treat each other with love, allowing the peace of Christ to control our hearts. 

The readings today offer us the beginning ingredients for a holy family. It seems idealistic, maybe impossible, or maybe too simple. Actually, it is neither; challenging yes, but also possible. God would not call us to be something which is unattainable. He has called us to be holy, because he has promised to help us be holy. We don’t become holy on our own. We become holy as we respond to his invitation and we walk with him, one step at a time. 

Prayer: Loving God, we thank you for the gift of our families. We ask you to sustain us in our journey to become holy families. Lord, help us follow Paul’s advice to forgive one another, to treat one another with compassion, patience, and above all, with love. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, pray for us. Amen.