The Holy Family (Fr. Simham)
The Holy Family is a model to modern families
If at all if there is one feast which is very, very relevant to our present day society, it is the feast of the Holy family. At a time when all essential institutions started crumbling through the onslaught materialism and relative consumerism, Holy Spirit who guides the church has done a great job by inspiring the Holy Fathers (Pope Benedict XV and Pope Leo XIII) to institute this feast to remind the people about the importance of family and it essential value to the society. Once we had joint families, and then they were replaced by nucleus families and now, now they are replaced by something and something else.
Family is the basis of the society and marriage is the basis of the family. Now all these things are crumbling. More of individualism, false secularism and utilitarianism are reigning our values. What gives me more pleasure and what gives me more satisfaction? That is the criteria for selection today. It is applied even to the families and inter personal relationships today. In this situation, holy family of Nazareth is presented as the model for us.
What is so striking about holy family is that it is a family like yours and mine. Father and mother and a son. A small family. And above all, it had all the problems a modern family has. Be it misunderstanding between husband and wife, be it the attempted divorce which Joseph was planning secretly, or be it the problem of migration to escape torture and death at the flight to Egypt, or be it the problem of disobedient children ( Apparently Jesus being lost at the age of 12), in all these things it was family like yours and mine. From the little what we read in the gospels we come to know that Holy family had its own fair share of problems and difficulties. Yet we call it a holy family because, in spite of all these problems, each one in the family knew what their role was in the family and were faithful to their role. For them personal aspirations and joys were secondary. Their duty to the family was of primary importance.
Joseph the just, even though he was not happy bunny to accept Mary’s pregnancy and wanted to divorce her secretly, having been instructed by the angel in the dream, accepted her has his wife and faithfully did what a husband and father was suppose to do to the family. Jesus was always addressed by his villagers as Carpenter’s son. So much was the respect he commanded from the family and the neighbours. He never spoke a word in the gospels. Because he did not have the need not speak. His moral integrity commanded that respect and obedience from them.
Mary, who wanted to be a virgin, accepted the role assigned to her by God to be a virgin-mother and was faithful to her role as a beloved mother. She was with her son till the end. Some called him Rabbi and some called him mad-man and asked her to go and get him home because he had gone mad. But she believed her son and stood by him in all his trials. She perfectly fitted into her role as a mother.
And Jesus as the son in the family, he had his own desire to be at his ‘Father’s house’, the temple all the time. “Why did you search for me? Don’t you know that I have be in my father’s house.” He said this to his parents who were searching for him. But still he did not brag about it. But he went with them and was obedient to them. He knew that it was his father’s will that he should be obedient to the parents. Read Paul’s inspired words to Christian households in his letter to Colossians “Wives be obedient to your husbands, Husbands love your wives,……..Children, obey your parents in everything.” These instructions fit perfectly well for the holy family. The secret of their holiness was that they were always concerned about the other. Living for the other, never for themselves. That is the trick the world is missing to today. What we have today is what we call ‘me first attitude’ dominating. Pleasure, happiness, success by any means: these are the golden words in today’s dictionaries. Sacrifice and commitment are words forgotten; words in the archives.
Hence, we find that there are not many marriages, because marriage involves commitment and responsibility; not many vocations to priesthood and religious life, because it involves sacrifice. Often we put the blame on culture and environment in which we live. But there too families are involved. So if the society has to change the families have to change. And that change has to begin from here. From your family. Home of Nazareth is your model.
I genuinely appreciate all those families who are struggling to keep up the values of the Holy family and are finding it hard. I humbly beg you not to give up, because you are our hope; the hope of our society and the church. You are our only hope, never give up.
May God bless you.
Fr. Showreelu Simham