What makes a family holy?

Photo by Benjamin Manley on Unsplash

Families are often more fused together than fashioned. We have an image of what we want our families to be, whether that is an imagined brood, yet to be, or one remembered, long since disbanded. In both cases, dreams and memories often do not measure up to what we wish families were.

We need to realize how high the stakes are in families. The more we love, the more we make ourselves vulnerable. No one can love us like family, and no one can hurt us like family. Keep this in mind when you consider your own clan. Who, save God alone, can draw the line between sinning and being sinned against? It is easy enough to see the hurt that others have caused, more difficult to see the inner pain that often impels them. And, perhaps most difficult of all, recognizing the suffering that we ourselves have inflicted.


Maps detail the distances between family members. So do wounds. Either way, Christmas is a wonderful time to reach out and to wish a family member God’s best blessings. We may need to keep our distance, but we can at least desire all good things for our family members. Fusing together a family often means overlooking a lot, being ready to forgive once again. It means constantly asking ourselves if we have really given all that we can.

Sometimes, fusing together a family means establishing dear relationships even in the absence of blood. Yes, blood runs deeper than water, but love surges from a fathomless vein. The blood of Joseph did not flow in the veins of Jesus as Mary’s did, but never think that the manhood of the Christ was not something crafted by the carpenter from Nazareth.

Yes, the sanctity of the Holy Family sets them apart from us, but the greater chasm is that of deliberate decision. Joseph chose to accept Mary and her unborn Son as his own. Mary chose to bear the Christ. And the Son of God chose to become flesh, to become a member of a family.

Yes, the sanctity of the Holy Family sets them apart from us, but the greater chasm is that of deliberate decision.

We may not yet be saints, but this does not make our families any less sacred. They are ordained to be holy. They are instruments, chosen by God. Saint Paul said that where sin abounds so too does grace. The converse is also true. Those who pursue holiness will be beset by temptations. Raising a Christian family is a great work of grace. Just like King Herod, the Evil One will exert himself to see it fail.

When sanctity is the measure, our families may be quite different from Jesus, Mary and Joseph. But when the question becomes what we chose to do, we could not be more like them.

Readings: Sirach 3: 2-6, 3-14 Colossians 3: 12-21 Mathew 2: 13-15, 19-23

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