29 Dec – Feast of the Holy Family
The Holy Family
We celebrate that Holy Family of Nazareth which is the model for all who fear the Lord and walk in his ways.
– The Sunday Missal
The Lord honours the father in his children,
and upholds the rights of a mother over her sons.
Whoever respects his father is atoning for his sins,
he who honours his mother is like someone amassing a fortune.
Whoever respects his father will be happy with children of his own,
he shall be heard on the day when he prays.
Long life comes to him who honours his father,
he who sets his mother at ease is showing obedience to the Lord.
My son, support your father in his old age,
do not grieve him during his life.
Even if his mind should fail, show him sympathy,
do not despise him in your health and strength;
for kindness to a father shall not be forgotten
but will serve as reparation for your sins.
You are God’s chosen race, his saints; he loves you, and you should be clothed in sincere compassion, in kindness and humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with one another; forgive each other as soon as a quarrel begins. The Lord has forgiven you; now you must do the same. Over all these clothes, to keep them together and complete them, put on love. And may the peace of Christ reign in your hearts, because it is for this that you were called together as parts of one body. Always be thankful.
Let the message of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you. Teach each other, and advise each other, in all wisdom. With gratitude in your hearts sing psalms and hymns and inspired songs to God; and never say or do anything except in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Wives, give way to your husbands, as you should in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and treat them with gentleness. Children, be obedient to your parents always, because that is what will please the Lord. Parents, never drive your children to resentment or you will make them feel frustrated.
Children, obey your parents in everything… Parents, do not be too demanding of your children lest they become discouraged
Of all the holidays in the calendar, Christmas is the one I fear the most. No other holiday forces me to face a reckoning quite like Christmas does. As a child, I used to look forward to unwrapping presents with my parents under the Christmas tree. We would rejoice over gifts as simple as a box of chocolates wrapped in colored foil. We would sing carols about good kings and holy nights. We delighted in each other’s company. Sometimes there would even be sparklers. Life was good when it was simple.
I don’t remember when Christmas became such a complicated affair. Maybe it was I who became complicated. Somewhere along the way, I changed. I let a generational and cultural divide open up between my parents and I. It’s ok when we’re living apart, distance obscures many ills. When I come home for the holidays however, proximity lays bare all of my shortfalls. As a child, it was impressed upon me the importance of hard work, of making something of myself. My parents insisted that I leave home, ‘as far, as far away as you can go’. And so I dutifully did. No one told my parents that they might have to deal with cultural dissonance at the dinner table one day as a result. Sirach says, “Do not rejoice at the humiliation of your father because his dishonor is no glory to you. For a man’s glory comes from his father’s reputation; a mother who is not respected is a disgrace to her children” (Sir 3:10-11). On some level, I understand that when I argue with my parents and I win, it’s not because I am correct. It’s because they’ve gotten tired of me using the education that they gave me, to infuriate them. I get that even when I win, I still lose because that divide between us just gets larger. What I don’t understand is why I insist on fighting with them when I know I fight with an unfair advantage. Where does my compassion go when it comes to dealing with my own family? And what is the basis of my frustration and impatience? Is it fair of me to expect them to see my point of view when I have had the benefit of the better life that they gave me?
Christmas is tough for all families because proximity lays bare our vulnerabilities. Generational and cultural friction leads to frustration on both sides. Paul offers us a way to survive the holidays, for want of a better phrase. “Clothe yourselves then, as is fitting of God’s chosen people… put on compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience to bear with one another… as the Lord has forgiven you, forgive one another” (Colossians 3:12-13). Our wings take their flight from the roots that ground them. As Joseph and Mary sacrificed their needs for that of the Holy Infant, when we were conceived, two people committed to a lifelong journey and sacrificed themselves and their dreams so that we could have a better life. “Whoever honors his father atones for his sins; he who gives glory to his mother prepares a treasure for himself. Whoever honors his father will receive joy from his own children and will be heard when he prays. Whoever glorifies his father will have a long life. Whoever obeys the Lord gives comfort to his mother. He serves those who brought him to birth as he would serve the Lord” (Sir 3:3-7).
(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)
Prayer: We pray for compassion, humility, meekness and patience this holiday season, when we’re home with our family and loved ones.
Thanksgiving: I give thanks for my parents and ask their forgiveness for all the times that I was impatient, insensitive and frustrated with them this holiday season.