On the 6th day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a Holy family – Matthew 2: 13-15,19-23

On the 6th day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a Holy family.

Many of us live in a world of idealism. The presentation of the most flawless skin, perfect home, restful holiday and romantic meal is driven by the need to meet sales targets and executed by the best in the advertisement industry. You can’t change the colour of your skin no matter what the label on the cream claims nor can you control the security of your family no matter what the insurance company tells you. But we fall prey to such propaganda and live in a world of peaches and roses only to be woken up when the briars poke us.

No matter what the media says, there are no perfect people or perfect families. Families are what we make of them by investing in the needs of one another. We build the foundation of love when we stretch ourselves for each other. Some roles come naturally; the altruism of a mother and father for a sick child as they sit the night in vigil besides their baby burning with fever. Some roles are learnt along; the need to share your toys with your sibling. Some roles are thrust upon us, the role of learning to be a nurse to an ailing and aged parent or an elder sister or brother who has to become the de-facto parent to her or his siblings because their mother died tragically.

The family of Mary, Joseph and Jesus are airbrushed today. The statues to honour them show this perfect and peaceful trio as if they had no trial or tribulation thrown at them. The Gospel on the feast of the Holy Family is not a narrative of perfection. It is the story of a plot to kill baby Jesus, a midnight flight into a foreign land under the cover of darkness. A family becomes refugees; driven out of their land and their source of income only to be told to return several years later and then to find that the threat to their lives had not entirely been eliminated. They then had to choose Nazareth as their home, an obscure village with not more than twenty families in a district of Galilee which had lost much of its Jewish heritage over the years and had become more secular in its approach.

There are no perfect families but families that that called to perfection. There are no families that have no challenges but families who challenge the situation they are faced with by faith. The perfect studio pictures that hang in your home are but a presentation of a day we dressed up for that photo shoot, the rest of our days are filled with the reality of struggle, challenges and chores.

If the Holy Family did not have it easy, why do we think that we must have it easy? So, what’s the point of this feast? Simply this; they were a HOLY family because they strove to be one. The word holy comes from the Greek word ‘hagios’ which simply translates as ‘different.’ Mary, Joseph and Jesus responded to the challenges of this world differently.

Mary and Joseph were obedient to the angels each time a demand was made of them. They thought less of their comforts but of their duty to be part of salvation history. As parents they did not end up in shouting match when they discovered that Jesus was missing when they took him to the temple; their response was to go together to look for him. You don’t hear of Mary complaining of which maternity hospital she ought to have brought the saviour of the world into nor does she chastise Joseph for the many long and arduous journeys they were forced to make. They were not given choices; one day they called Bethlehem home, the next day it was Egypt and finally Nazareth. There is no evidence that Mary thought that Joseph should make a career change and bring in more than just bread.

Your family was ordained by God to be Holy too, but in order to make it different YOU have to learn to be different and it all begins with you.

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