I have had family on my mind a lot lately. Family relationships, family blessings, family conflicts…
I have been thinking about how truly blessed I am to have been given this amazing little family I get to share life with every day.
And I’m so thankful for the many people I get to count as members of my family.
^Miss drew these pictures, wrapped them, and gave them to me on Christmas. The top one is our family, the bottom one is my family of origin, my Mom, Dad, brother, and me.
At the same time, I’ve been thinking about how family ties can be strained, stressed, or broken. I’ve had these damaged relationships on my mind a lot lately. I have been praying for those dealing with difficult family relationships, particularly at Christmas, a special family time of year. It breaks my heart to know people who struggle in this way.
Bringing these thoughts and prayers even more into focus, today the Catholic Church observed the feast of the Holy Family — the perfect example of family life. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph provide for us the quintessential model of how we should try to be in our own families. They were kind, loving, charitable, and always focused on how God wanted them to live, rather than on their own plans or selfish desires.
I try my hardest to be this way with all those I love, and I mess it up in various ways every single day. But today’s focus on the Holy Family reminded me that I have help with my efforts. It’s not just me, all on my own, trying to figure this out. I have a model. And I have the ability to pray for the intercession of the Holy Family and for the grace of God to help me live up to this example in my own life.
I also have Mass, and the sacraments, and the Bible.
And the Mass readings for today were especially moving and relevant to my reflections on family relationships of late. The second reading in particular (which in its entirety was Colossians 3:12-21) was beautiful and just perfect for a day focused on family. Here’s the first part of it:
Brothers and sisters:
Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,
heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,
bearing with one another and forgiving one another,
if one has a grievance against another;
as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.
And over all these put on love,
that is, the bond of perfection.
And let the peace of Christ control your hearts,
the peace into which you were also called in one body.
And be thankful.
This. Right here is what family life is all about. I want this in myself and in my family. I want this for all families. For all relationships. For all human interactions.
I feel like I might need to print this out and carry it around in my pocket. Maybe we all do.
I know not all family conflicts can be fixed simply by remembering that God has called us to be kind and humble, to forgive and love each other. But it sure is a place to start.
I pray daily for my family. I’ll be praying for yours too.