Family: Where love is born
A reflection for the Feast of the Holy Family, Year B
by Carlos Ferreira
This Sunday, we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family – the family unit that is the foundation not only of our faith but also of all we are as individuals.
In the first reading from the book of Ben Sirah, we are asked to honour our parents, to respect them, and to take care of them in their old age. We live in times where this is so important; we have a pandemic on our doorsteps that has affected so many of our elder brothers and sisters.
Reflecting on my own experience, I remember my dad, the youngest of 13 children, who took it upon himself to care for his own parents until they were no longer in this world. After my grandfather passed away, my dad and his siblings decided that the best for their mother was to spend a month in the house of each of her children. For our family it was not an easy task since we lived in a small two-bedroom house, and there were four of us – now five with my grandmother. My father decided that he and my mom would give up their own bed for my grandmother to sleep on. Her health was deteriorating at this point, and it was a challenging time for all of us. But that gesture taught me that family means taking care of each other and giving the best of yourself to one another.
That brings us to the point of the second reading. When my parents decided to give up their bed for my grandmother to sleep in – now with all of these years of distance – I see that heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience
that Saint Paul talks about. In spite of their own difficulties, they decided to give their best so my grandmother would feel comfortable.
In times like these, this is what will keep us grounded and firm as individuals. The family is where we learn what we are and always will be, where we come from no matter how far we are from each other.
Families are our domestic churches. God himself chose to send His own son to a family unit so he could grow surrounded by the same kind of love most of us were born into.
In the Gospel, Simeon praises Jesus and his family, calling Jesus, “a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.”
That light which sparked in Mary's womb in the town of Nazareth and came into the world in the city of Bethlehem in the poorest of the stables radiated from that same unit we all came from – the family, where love is born for all of us.
How many of us in a difficult moment revert to family to find a way to move forward, or just a shoulder to cry on. How many of us give up everything to help a family member in need, even when sometimes we ourselves feel that we have nothing else to give.
During this year-long global pandemic, we all experienced a sense of solitude and isolation – but why did we? Why did many of us stay isolated from the most vulnerable members of our families for a long period of time? We did it because of this love, the love that carries us – the agape
. In the context of a pandemic, that meant giving up being close to family members in order to protect them. That is also why we wear a mask and wash our hands dozens of times a day – to protect what we know is the biggest treasure we have in our lives.
Let us not forget this Christmas – and in the rest of the year – that like the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we too are part of a bigger love, a love that both will require us to give to it the whole of ourselves but also will keep us grounded in the most difficult of times.
The readings for the Feast of the Holy Family, Year B, are
Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14
Carlos Ferreira is a Catholic globetrotter who went from a small town in Portugal to Madrid, worked at Salt and Light from 2011 to 2016 and now lives in Vancouver. He is the host of the newly launched podcast Things Jesus Never Said.