Sir 3:2-6, 12-14; Col 3:12-21; Lk 2:11-40 (2:22,39-40)
I read something like this that in the 1950s in America, there was a television program called, Father Knows Best. Well, that is precisely what we are supposed to believe as Catholics: that our Heavenly Father knows what is best for us; thus, we must conform our lives to His plan and His will.
Today we are celebrating the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. We are celebrating this feast on Sunday after Christmas by which we give honor and respect to a family whose lives are our role models especially for these times of ours by which the family is in danger in and out.
The family is in danger in and out because it is the subject of social manipulation and experimentation, a tragedy with far-reaching implications. We may use the name ‘family’ to describe whatever we please, but God has made plain through Jesus, Mary and Joseph, His will for every family. Every child has a right to enjoy the security of committed love and consistent example, both of a man-father and a woman-mother. If any woman was capable of running a household singlehandedly, Our Lady was, and God might be very well have asked Mary to go it alone, but He didn’t. he called on Joseph to marry, love and protect Our Lady and to be the foster-father of the God-Man, Jesus. God demands that each child have the gift of an authentic family life.
I will propose again some questions for us to reflect. What is happening to our families? What are the forces that are undermining family life nowadays? In order to get some perspective on the present state of family life, I read in the internet that Dr. Peter Kreeft a professor of philosophy at Boston College and a well-known author and speaker, gave a talk in Ohio, USA. In his talk, he outlined what he calls, “Satan’s spectacularly successful seven steps sexual strategy.” This is his explanation of how the devil is working in our world right now to destroy families and even the whole human race. Personally, I think Dr. Kreeft is right on target in his analysis. Here it is:
Step 1 in Satan’s strategy – this is the devil’s ultimate goal: winning souls for hell.
Step 2: in order for Satan to win many souls for hell, society must be corrupted.
Step 3: to effectively destroy society, family life must be undermined – because strong families are necessary in order to have strong societies.
Step 4: in order to destroy the family, you must destroy its foundation – stable marriage
Step 5: marriage is destroyed by loosening its glue which is sexual fidelity.
Step 6: fidelity is destroyed my promoting and defending the sexual revolution.
Step 7: the sexual revolution is promoted and defended by the media – through which the seeds of destruction are sown into the minds of millions of people everyday.
I would say that Dr. Kreeft answers all those questions briefly but accurately with those seven satanic steps. And lest we think that the people in the media are becoming more responsible in what they’re putting on the air for human consumption, we had better think again.
Today’s feast of the Holy Family invites us to ask ourselves on the main concerns of every family.
First, the family provides an affirming atmosphere. I read this from the 365 Days with the Lord 1998 that psychologists have a term for families whose relationships are mature and healthy. They are ‘functional’ systems where, despite being imperfect human beings, parents provide an affirming atmosphere and children grow with positive regard for self and others. The functional family provides a safe, nurturing environment for children where love and acceptance lie at the core of their system, despite disagreements and disciplinary problems. They dialogue, express feelings and trust in each other’s love.
Second, prayer life takes place in the family first. There are three settings in which family’s prayer life takes. One is, there is the personal setting. In this setting family members pray to God on his/her own. For example, a father prays on his way to work. A mother prays over her sick baby. A boy/girl prays before going to bed. There are several ways to pray alone: We can pray the basic prayers like the Lord’s Prayer and reflecting on the word as we go; we can pray from Scripture by reading paragraph by paragraph and meditating on it; we can pray in our own words by speaking to God spontaneously from our hearts and many more.
The other one is family prayer setting in a group. In this setting the family members pray together. For example, they pray together around the table at meal times. They pray together before retiring for bed. They pray together at other appropriate times. And lastly, there is the communal prayer setting. In this setting the family gathers with other families for a prayer. Here in the Diocese of Marbel we call this as KRISKA or Kristohanong Kasilinganan (Christian Neighbor) session. Of course, it is not always possible for families to celebrate this communal prayer together but there should be times when the family makes an effort to do this.
Lastly, it is in the family that we first learn what Christian life is all about. The family is the basic unit of society and the Church. It is in the family that we first learn to communicate, that we learn what is good and bad. That we learn what we love is because it is in the family that we first receive love. It is in the family that we first learn to forgive and to pray. It is in the family that we first learn about God and Jesus and Our Lady. It is in the family that we learn to value ourselves and value everything else, picking up our values from what is said and unsaid by our parents. Our family forms us for many years to come. The future of humanity depends on the family because it is through a family that we all come. There are many attempts to destroy the family in our times and if the family will be destroyed, our world will crumble because all humanity comes through the family. There are many attempts today to redefine the family but they do not reflect God’s plan for the family.
At the end let us always remember Father Patrick Payton’s words: “the family that prays together stays together.’
See Today’s Readings Year A, Year B, Year C