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“Holy Family!” by Rachael Flanagan, Fiat Ventures

Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

Ah finally.  The kids are asleep.  Sometimes my 2 year old son melts my heart at bed time when we say prayers together and he thanks Jesus for me, his dad, his baby sister, and pretzels.  Tonight was not one of those nights.  He threw quite the tantrum after dinner when we did not rubber stamp his proposal for 3 different types of dessert.  Bath time went swimmingly, but not in the way that it sounds – he decided to practice his freestyle stroke, and half the water in the tub is now on the bathroom floor.  He demanded an encore complete read-through of “Hop on Pop” by Dr. Seuss during story time, and to top off the night, he screamed his head off when I tucked him in, exclaiming that he wanted to build with Lincoln Logs.  My 4 month old daughter meanwhile was nearby in her baby swing, taking careful notes about how to get attention from Mommy and prolong the bedtime routine.

When we think about the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we don’t often think about their day-to-day life.  But Jesus was like us in all things but sin!  So we shouldn’t picture them just sitting still all day for painters to do their portraits.  They lived a real family life together.  There were days when toddler Jesus accidentally spilled his Cheerios and milk all over Joseph’s morning newspaper.  There were days when Mary felt like the laundry would never end.  There were days when Joseph after a long day of work had to help Mary scrub crayon off the wall.

Honestly it makes me feel a million times better thinking about the Holy Family like that.  Don’t get me wrong, they are the best image and icon of a family that we have; but that doesn’t mean life was peachy every day.  Mary and Joseph had to worry about paying the bills and keeping Jesus warm and well fed, so he could grow up big and strong.  They probably had to make airplane noises to get Jesus to eat his broccoli (er…um…camel noises?)

The hallmark of the life of the Holy Family wasn’t anything like a Hallmark movie at all.  It was love..selfless, sacrificial love.  That’s what the Holy Family models for us, and that’s what we should all strive to live out in our own families.

Maybe you’re a parent of young children and can relate.  Maybe you’re a grandmother and this brings back memories of your own children.  But maybe you’re a teen and having your own spouse and children is still a ways off into the future.  What can the Holy Family model for you?

I’d suggest that it’s the same answer.  Learn from them to love your family with selfless, sacrificial love.  Help your parents around the house.  Spend time with your younger siblings who look up to you and want nothing more than to be around you, even when you have seemingly better things to do.  Don’t take it for granted when your mom or dad cooks you dinner, but thank them and affirm them for always taking care of that.  Or when one of them starts putting on boots and gloves to go snow-blow the driveway, grab your sister and tell them you’ll take care of it (and you’ll probably return to a nice cup of hot chocolate as a thank-you).

The Church has always called the family the school of love, so learn love and teach love in your family, and look at the Holy Family as a model.  God himself loved us so much, that he not only became one of us, but was born into and lived in a family.  And as my friend Mike Manhardt from One Strong F.A.M.I.L.Y. would say, F.A.M.I.L.Y = Forget About Me, I Love You!

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