The Holy Family

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One of the saddest things I’ve encountered as a photographer is the group who comes in for a “family” photo, but excludes some of the children because they don’t fully belong. Dad will tell the older children to sit outside while the family has their photo taken. They are not to consider themselves as part of the Grandma’s family. Where is acceptance? Where is the bonding that makes a family a safe and secure unit? Families must be more than mere biology. A real family is formed in the heart where love can be depended on regardless of the past, regardless of the personal failings. It is a family built on love, a family united by their caring and concern for one another.

Today we celebrate another family – the Holy Family – a family united by faith: faith in each other, faith in what the angels said, and faith in God. Together they have surrendered themselves to the will of God – that’s part of what unites them into a whole. Mary has given up her natural desires and surrendered herself to God’s will. Joseph has established Mary as his wife despite the risk that the Jewish community may condemn him for the act. He takes on the responsibility of provider and protector for both Mary and the baby and becomes a real father for Jesus. This then is a living model for us today, a model of what a family can be, what it should be.

Later in the liturgical year we will celebrate Jesus bringing us before God, and claiming us as part of his family. Christ has extended his arms to embrace not just his earthly parents, not just his cousins and other kin, not just those who claim heritage through Abraham, but all people, everywhere, gentiles and Jews. Through His love, we are all adopted as children of God. In a way, we become part of the holy family we celebrate today. We have faith and trust in God, we know he will not shunt us aside. Regardless of our weaknesses and failings, He will love us and look after us, if only we accept ourselves and each other as part of the family. God is welcoming us into the picture.

Linda Crowley