Reading I: Genesis 15:1-6; 21:1-3
Reading II: Colossians 3:12-21
GOSPEL: Luke 2:22-40
The Perfect Family
The bond we have with our family is something that comes from God. This week, the scripture we hear can help us understand our role in our family. No, they’re not all perfect people – but they are our family and that makes them extra special!
The Holy Family Role-Model
Looking at the Holy Family doesn’t tell us how parents should discipline their children, how to make ends meet financially, how to handle crises, or how to pay for college. And yet we would be sadly mistaken if we believe that the hopes, problems, and even shattered dreams we share in our families have not been shared by most families since the beginning of time.
The Holy Family was a family just like ours. Jesus was a baby and grew up like any of us. I’m sure he bruised his knee, got sick, and perhaps even had to face the neighborhood bully. Mary and Joseph also had to deal with many of the same things that parents struggle with today. I’m sure if they, as parents, had been able to provide a blueprint for how Jesus would be, things would have turned out to be much different.
I’m also sure that if my parents (or yours) had been able to provide a blueprint for our lives, the way we’ve turned out is probably not what they would have chosen – regardless of whether or not they are happy for us now. So the Holy Family can help us to understand that parents have a role to play in the lives of their children – and so does God!
Parents and God – It Takes Teamwork
As much as it may frustrate me at times, I am not God and I cannot create a destiny for my children. Probably the biggest test of faith for parents is to trust that God will take care of this part of our children’s lives – the part that calls them into active participation in God’s plan.
In the second reading, we hear Paul tell us that the closest we will ever get to perfection is when we love. Husbands are to love and respect their wives. Wives are supposed to love and respect their husbands. Spouses are to provide support and encouragement to each other. The idea is that the two become far stronger together than they can possibly be as individuals. When two married people work together to build up their family, there is a synergy that comes from the cooperative effort.
This working together is critical to family experience. Think about when we were children. When we noticed that one parent was easier to get to say “yes” then the other, didn’t we try to use this to our advantage? I remember working to create any opportunity to get my way.
My brother-in-law once said to me, “Only when the parents are together can they ‘outnumber’ the children. When a parent is alone – even with one child – it is almost impossible for the parent to win!” And I must admit that I’ve been in that scary predicament on a few occasions. One person can only do so much when children are pulling us in different directions. And when your children seem to outwit you at every turn, it certainly is hard to feel like a good parent – much less a “perfect” one!
The Perfect Family is a Work in Progress
What is the perfect family? I guess it depends upon your definition of “perfect.”
There are families that have one parent, or two parents but with some sort of difficulty they must cope with. The family situations are almost limitless, because they depend so much upon the personalities of the family members. Because of this, I believe that becoming a “perfect” family may actually be a moving target.
All God is asking is for us to do our best. To try to make a difference in what we do as family. We are to work hard to be the best family we can be. Growing up, I remember the “attractive” family, the “rich” family, and the family with the “cool parents.” I later found out that these families also had difficulties. The simple fact is that we all have problems within our families – we all have our crosses to bear. So we need to just do the best we can, and rely on God to pick up the slack.
The gospel today says that Mary pondered on the wonders God was performing in and around her. We should do the same. This week, let’s take some time to really examine what God is doing in our lives, especially when it comes to our family. And think about all of the marvels God can do with all of us! Maybe the “perfect” family is not a final state, but rather a way of living life, loving each other, and worshipping God in the best way we can manage.
And though our families are all made up of imperfect people, perhaps with God’s help, we can be a perfect family in His eyes.
What do you think it was like being the parents of the Christ-child?
Why should parents work together with each other and the Lord?
How would you describe the perfect family?
Original article by Deacon Jim Corder, 2002-2020.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.