This Sunday we celebrate the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph – one of the great feasts of the Christmas Season. This feast centers our attention on that holy, perfect family into which Jesus was born.

It is not surprising that this family was perfect and holy. Mary had a special place in God’s heart from the moment of her conception and throughout her life she was free from the corrupting influence of sin and selfishness. She was full of grace.

Joseph was a righteous man who made perfect decisions for he was guided by messages from God. We see that happening in Sunday’s Gospel (Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23). There an angel of God appears to Joseph in a dream and warns him to flee to Egypt with Mary and Jesus in order to escape the murderous plot of Herod. Later that same divine messenger reappears and tells Joseph to return home for the threat was gone.

Most significant of all, the child in that family was divine, the Son of God himself. How could this family not be perfect, not be holy?

Sunday’s feast, while it highlights this perfect family, also reminds us of something that we often forget. It tells us that there was only one holy, perfect family and there will never be another one like it.

Yet most of us keep searching for other holy, perfect families,
and we do that searching especially in our own homes.

Children want their mothers and fathers to be perfect. Or at least to be perfect according to their understanding of what makes the perfect parent.

Parents want to have perfect, holy, obedient children who cause no trouble and are a credit to the family.

Siblings want their brothers and sisters to be kind, sharing, and supportive and to cause them no trouble or embarrassment.

Yet as we know from our personal experience, families are not perfect. Even families that produce priests and religious have their failings and imperfections.

That is why the scriptures this Sunday speak of what family members owe one another. The First Reading (Colossians 3: 12-21) speaks of the things that imperfect families, like our own, need to work on.

Paul tells us, “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.”

Families are made up of imperfect people like you and me, who try to muddle through, who sometimes succeed, and sometimes fail. That is why our families need to be rich in love, forgiveness, and understanding.

There was only one perfect, holy family. As much as we might hope, there will never be another one. Since that is the case, perhaps the best gift we can give the members of our families this Christmas Season, and throughout the coming New Year, is a little more forgiveness, a little more understanding, a little more love.

© 2019 Rev. Thomas B. Iwanowski

Best Wishes for a Joyous Christmas
and a New Year Filled with God’s Presence and Peace!