A few years ago, a study was undertaken in the United States to find the lowest cancer and heart disease incidence. The winner was a small town called Rosetto in Pennsylvania. Soon experts descended upon this tiny town expecting to see a town populated by non-smokers, people who ate the correct food, took regular exercise, and kept close track of their cholesterol. To their great surprise, however, the researchers discovered that none of the above was true. Instead, they found that the city’s good health was tied to the close family bond that prevailed within that particular community. This suggests that there is much to be said for a close and loving family relationship with our health conditions and quality of life.
“St Paul reminds the people about the power of love, which is the bond of perfection, manifested in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience in family life.”
On the last Sunday of every year, Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Family of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus, where we offer all the members of our own families on the altar of God for a blessing. The first reading from the book of Sirach (3:2-6,12-14) reminds the children about their responsibility of honoring and obeying their parents and the manifold blessings that will come to their lives if they carry out their duties and responsibilities joyfully towards their parents. In the second reading from the letter to the Colossians (3:12-21), St Paul reminds the people about the power of love, which is the bond of perfection, manifested in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience in family life. Today’s Gospel presents the story of Joseph, who is the head of the Holy Family, faithfully obeying God’s law given through Moses concerning the purification of the mother and the Child by presenting Mary and the Baby Jesus in the Temple in accordance with their customs and traditions.
The Church encourages us to look to the Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph for inspiration, example, and encouragement. They were a model family in which both parents worked hard, helped each other, understood and accepted each other, and took good care of their Child so that Jesus might grow up not only in human knowledge but also as a Child of God. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#2223) recommencements that: “Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are promoted. Our family is the best place for education in the virtues. Our Families are to be the first Church, first school, first Society where they have to learn spiritual, moral, and social values to enable them to lead a good and healthy life in the future”. Parents should teach their children by showing good examples. Parents are the first and the best teachers of their children.
A few suggestions to improve our own family lives in our times:
- Place God first and obey God’s commandments by praying as the Holy Family of Nazareth. Pray at least mornings and evenings and before and after all meals. Let God be a part of our daily dialogues and conversations. We see Jesus praying in different occasions and situations, and His prayer was His way of staying connected with His Heavenly Father. Therefore, as St. Paul says, “pray without seizing.”
- Place others second and consider them more important than yourself in your family. These days we see life is most of the time centered around “Me,” and this “Me Culture” puts me on top of everything in my life. In real life, this Me Culture does not work well; instead, it creates unhealthy completion, selfishness, pride, and arrogance among members leading to their downfall. It has to be “Other Culture” rather than “Me Culture.” Others are more important than ourselves.
- Place yourself last in your family. Last is not the least in life. All of us are afraid of being the last and want to be the first. There cannot be many first but one. This attitude creates restlessness and disturbances everywhere. Jesus even told us, when you are invited for a celebration, do not look for the first seat but the last seat. God will exalt those who humble themselves.
- Make our Family a Confessional rather than a Courtroom. A Courtroom is a place where we argue with each other to win over others. In contrast, a Confessional is where we acknowledge our weakness and challenges seeking pardon and forgiveness for a better beginning. Every family has to be a Confessional, as there is no one without weakness and challenges. We all need a new begging every day. Dear brothers and sisters, misplaced priorities are one of the problems of our day-to-day life in families and Society. This begins at home and is carried over to all other areas of our lives, which cause some level of imbalance in our lives. There should be order everywhere, in nature, in families, even within ourselves, and this order needs to be replaced to create stability and sustainability of the families and Society.
Fr. Tomy J. Puliyan, MSFS
“ Holiness and Happiness through Wellness and Wholeness!”