Sunday, December 29, 2013

When Our Family Isn't Holy

...As most of ours are not.

I sat in church this Sunday, the Feast of the Holy Family, and thought (and prayed) long and hard for all the families sitting around me, and for my own.

We had just spent the evening before talking with our son and his fiancée about their upcoming wedding in 2014 and about families and church teachings and all other life issues. We want them to know that family comes first and they must serve God and one another in order to have a solid marriage.

We want only what's best for our children. So does the Church. I want my children to know that Mother Church wants what's best for them and it always points in the direction of heaven.

My ministry outside the home places me in a soggy-bottom reality of hurting families. Often the words from the pulpit on this feast day are aimed at pointing to the ideal that Holy Mother Church insists is best for our salvation and, indeed, it is: a father, a mother, and a baby.

Bliss, completion, a whole family.

As Christian people we need to be reminded of this ideal.

But there is the ideal and there is the reality.

The reality sits in the pews every Sunday. Or not.

No one is perfect. No family is perfect. No one has the answers.

There sits the Church: a mass of working poor, humanity fleeing families who don't like their families, families they don't know, a single mother who has lost her husband, a divorced man wanting to give his children the one thing he cannot, a pregnant teenage girl, a sulky teenage boy, a bullied adolescent, a young mother who has been told something is wrong with the baby in her womb, a child who just found out her daddy is not her father, a rejected child, parents with a child fighting an addiction, unemployed men and women, a parent of a murdered child, grandparents raising their grandchildren, families split and void of all hope.

The church teaches the ideal. People live the reality of a fallen world.

Thus the church has to constantly reach out to anoint us and scoop us up with loving guidance and counsel. It points again to the ideal while wiping our wounds.

And it does.

Through the sacraments, during the Mass, in the cloud of witnesses, in the beauty of feast days, in the prayers of fasting, and in the ever present image of the Holy Family.
A family that was human.

A family that took an unplanned pregnancy upon its shoulders.

A family that lived homeless while fleeing a wicked king who threatened to destroy their infant son.

A family that lived poor and worked hard for its living.

A family that followed all the rules and feast days and traditions of their Jewish faith.

A family that lost their child and spent three hopeless days in stressful searching.

A family that lost a father young, leaving a single mother and growing son to fend for themselves.

A family who saw their son bullied and sought after.

A family who saw their son rejected and murdered.

Perhaps the ideal is not so far from reality as we originally thought.

Perhaps the Holy Family is more like our own unholy families than we ever thought possible.

The difference?

That family kept their eyes on God...and that made all the difference.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful! Thank you for posting this as I have 2 teens who are seriously questioning our faith! It helps to know I am not alone in my struggle!

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