This holiday season has been a success and members have come together to celebrate the birth of Jesus. It is the time now to reflect on our family and its needs and successes. Today's feast of the Holy Family gives us a chance see what might lie ahead.
The family we are called to be in is not necessarily the one we see pictured on TV. The family that we hopefully saw this holiday season was one where respect and honor were present, not just for the father but for the mother as well. I saw it in a special way this Advent. My two daughters, Kate and Julie, honored their father as he slipped away from us and entered Eternal Life. I saw the blessings and honors they gave him during his journey. It was not much different than the respect and honor that they gave their father over the last years but more visible.
I am sure you saw the same things this holiday season in your family. In most families there was love and concern, compassion and respect. It did not start in one day. It started when each member of the family came together. You could see the elder ones showing respect and caring for the young. The children were given multiple examples of what honor and compassion were. This respect went on all day long and into to the night. Teenagers sometimes had to struggle with the commercial lifestyle depicted on media with the lifestyle they saw passed on through their family. Older members of families had to deal with the loss of loved ones and continued dealing with the ways they will look forward to honor they will continue to receive.
If your family was like mine there were some minor breaches of the code of honor written in Sirach. Jokes were told that did not represent family values and the respect that was deserved by all. It is important to recognize and respect what was said. Then, action must be taken to confront the situation and words must be said that demonstrate a love and a resolve never to say or do the act again. We all must be willing to confront our own actions that led to any possible disrespect and resolve to do what we must to stop such kinds of action in the future.
In the second reading from Colossians we have some wonderful guidance about how to change ourselves and the people we love. Paul tells us to put on, "heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience". Paul also said," we bear with one another and forgive one another as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do". Powerful words and powerful actions that are difficult to hear and difficult to do. In one of the conversations I heard these past few days, several people began discussing a person that all knew. The words became downright nasty. One person in the room spoke out and said, "Is this the way you talk about everyone when they are not here?" The room became quiet and everyone quit talking. The lesson was spoken with honesty and with quiet truth. No one since that day has spoken about this person or anyone else who is a bit different, odd, or difficult.
Peace is another beautiful word that Paul presents today. It can be such a magnificent word or state of being that simply naming it does not do it justice. Inner peace means that we are open to God's love and are willing to be example to all the people in our life. It also means that we are open to God's love and are willing to change our behavior so that that God's love can grow and renew the families we live in. Sometimes they are not physical families but they are spiritual families we suffer with. Sometimes families we are joined to create prophetic dreams for the future but are joined with the peace and love of Jesus.
May we be prepared to walk the journey to God with honor, wisdom, courage, compassion and love. The walk will not be easy but it will be a fierce walk together. We can do it if we center ourselves on God. Our example is Jesus who did take that fierce walk to save and us and invite us into the kingdom.