Holy Family- The Model of All Families

Of all the families in human history, the family of Jesus stands above all others. This family is outstanding for its holiness, genuineness, understanding and acceptance of one another.

Not health, wealth, education, location or social status accounts for their place of prominence in human history. To the contrary, Mary and Joseph were poor. They were unschooled country people. Externally, they had nothing to distinguish them above any other Israelite of their time.

Internally, what distinguished them were their holy hearts and their close personal relationship with God. It is this that has given them lasting greatness. It is this that motivates us to look at them as a model family. They illustrate God’s plan for a family. They challenge all of us to pattern our homes after the heart of God.

The Holy Family is a model of faithfulness and love. They were totally devoted to God and his call on their lives. And, they faithfully followed their God-given vocations.

Their love for the Father and their desire to be faithful to him and to please him in all things was what also strengthened their love for each other.

They accepted God’s unique, individual plan for each of their lives and were obedient to His call. Mary accepted God’s plan to be the mother of Jesus. Joseph accepted taking Mary into his home and was obedient to being the foster father of God’s son. Jesus accepted the will of his Father which was often a difficult road to follow but one he followed in obedience.

The Holy Family also models forgiveness. And forgiveness leads to love. In fact, Jesus was the prime model for forgiveness as part of the Holy Family. For example, Jesus didn’t utter a single word in his defence against those who hurt him. Furthermore, he forgave those who put him to death.

So how can we model the Holy Family’s virtues in our own families? How can we take what we’ve learned from the Holy Family and apply it to our own life?

Pray together – First and foremost, as a family, our goal should be to draw each other closer to Christ. And, what better way to do so than through prayer?

Be Faithful to Your Vocation – Jesus, Mary and Joseph showed faithfulness to their vocation. And, we can do the same. Above all, try doing your duties without grumbling or complaining. This can be difficult, I know. Instead offer your vocation to the Lord. As married couples, we can model faithfulness by showing affection to one another, scheduling alone time, or by praying together. By doing so, we are being faithful to our marriage vocation and honouring the marriage covenant.

Honour Each Other – God wants us to honour each member of our family. For example, we can work on parenting our children with love instead of nagging. By the same token, we can show respect and love to our own parents, no matter what their age. Sometimes this is difficult as our own parents age and their health fails. But, no matter what stage of life we are in, God is calling us to be patient and to honour our family members as an act of faithfulness to him.

Accept Each Other – Oh how harmonious our family life could be if we learn to accept our family members without trying to change them! Just like the Holy Family, we are children of God. And we all have our own unique personalities. Similarly, God has a unique plan and purpose for each member of our family. So, not only do we need to accept God’s plan for our own life, but we need to accept that plan for others too.

Forgive Daily – This might be the hardest virtue of all to imitate. Because it’s all too easy to let a hurt fester and grow instead of choosing to forgive and let it go. I recently read a reflection that spoke about turning the family home into a confessional and not a courtroom. Meaning, let’s not become the judge and jury when it comes to our

family. Instead, let’s recognize that we all have imperfections and we are all sinners. When we do sin, let’s take it to the confessional of our homes. Let’s admit to any wrongdoing, ask for forgiveness, show mercy, and move on!

Be Present in Communication – The Holy Family certainly didn’t have as many distractions when it comes to communicating as we do today. It’s ironic that the very devices we use to communicate, such as cell phones, computers, and tablets, actually get in the way of us being present in our communication to one another. To emulate the Holy Family’s means of communicating, we can take simple steps like looking each other in the eye when we speak; putting aside our cell phones or any activity when someone is talking to us; And, basically just listen. To emphasize this point, on the Feast of the Holy Family, Pope Francis challenged all families to put their cell phones away during family meal time encouraging us to communicate just like the Holy Family did.

In this Christmas Season, let us pray that, inspired by the Holy Family, our families may grow in love and holiness.

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