THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH

Her Doctrine and Morals

The Holy Family

13 January 2019

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Dear Friends,

As we marvel at the beauty of the Holy Family and seek to implement some of the ideals into our own lives, let us recall that Mary and Joseph unsuccessfully sought Jesus among relatives, friends, and acquaintances. Our earthly familial relationships are good because God has made them. He has even entered into one and demonstrated the obedience that is necessary in them. However, He was not found there. He was found in the Temple — attentive to the business of God.

Later in His life, Jesus tells us that we must be willing to hate our families for the sake of God. (St. Luke 14:26) The true relatives of Jesus are those who do the Will of God — these are His mother, brothers, and sisters. (St. Luke 8:21) There are good things and then there are better things. All things are made by God and therefore all things are good. But, not all things are equal. God has given us the ability to examine, discern, and choose. It is His Will that we choose the best — that we choose Him above all else.

Jesus did not hate His mother Mary or St. Joseph — He loves them more than we can ever know. The evangelist shows us this when he recorded that Jesus went down with them and was subject (obedient) to them. However, Jesus instructs us that there is a higher bond, duty, or obligation which we must place above all others. He says: "Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?" The duties to God must take first place, then our duties to family.

Filled with all knowledge, wisdom, and grace, Jesus puts all this into the service of God. He, in a sense, hides this and appears as a simple, humble child, as He obediently leaves the Temple and returns with Mary and Joseph. We might set up a comparison of best, better, and good. Jesus gives the best to God, He gives the better in the Holy Family, and the good He gives to the world. This analogy, as with all analogies is not perfect, but hopefully, it will prove useful to us. Jesus wants us to follow Him, to imitate Him. He would have us offer the good that is in us to the world. We must be good citizens, students, employees, supervisors, teachers, etc. Then, in our families, we should give something better as we imitate the Holy Family as husband, wife, father, mother or child. Our best is God's gift to us, to be shared with others. Jesus would have us strive after perfection (St. Matthew 5:48) because God is perfect.

In another faulty analogy, we may suggest that we offer our physical bodies in this world, we offer our hearts to the loved ones of our families, and we give our very being — our souls to God. In all of these, we offer love, but we offer love in various degrees and stations. The love of a husband for his wife is different than the love of a father for his child, and this too is different than the love he has for his friends. Above all these loves, however, we must put God in the first place.

We even say that we cannot truly love anyone unless we first love God. Those who do not love God cannot truly be said to love anyone. The person that does not love God does not love himself. He must be unconcerned about his eternal welfare if he does not love God — hence, he does not even love himself. The person who does not love himself, cannot truly love anyone else, for the measure of our love for others is the love of ourselves. The commandments show us this when we are told that we must love God first and foremost and then we must love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

Today, we honor the Holy Family and we strive to mold our own families according to this ideal. In doing so, let us not forget that Jesus shows us an even higher calling or obligation to God. We must put God before ourselves and our families and friends. We do not just walk away or abandon our families, but having first served God, we return to our families and seek to draw them with us ever closer to God.

If parents truly love their children they will bring them to the Church, they will encourage them to be busy about God's business. We desire to increase religious and priestly vocations when God is calling them to a higher and more perfect vocation. If God has called them to a single celibate life or a married family life this too is good and is perfect for those whom God has called to this life, however St. Paul leaves no doubt that the greater vocation is in serving God. Parents, come to the Church pray and worship God. Teach your children to do the same. Encourage them to give themselves completely to God in whatever vocation He calls them to enter. If they choose God over parents, rejoice. You have not lost a child, but have truly gained an advocate before God. A good priest or religious never ceases to pray for his earthly parents, even though he has vowed to serve God first and foremost. The more perfect our love of God is, the more perfect the love for our families becomes.

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