The National Catholic Review
Dianne Bergant
Holy Family (B), Dec. 29, 2002
Put on...heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience (Col 3:12)

Today we seem deluged with reports of anger, abuse and even murder at the hand of a family member. Spouses are not attentive to each other; parents neglect children; and children disregard elders. It is time to return to good oldfashioned family values. But just what constitutes good old-fashioned family values? Is it the submission of wives, the domineering rule of parents, the intimidation of children?

 

If we remember that the family is not only the first and perhaps most formative school, but is also the fundamental ecclesial or church community, we might see Paul’s admonition as addressed to all members of all families. All of us are called to bear with one another and forgive one another. Parents are to be gentle with children, and adult children with aging parents. All belong to the household of God and are to be treated according to that dignity.

Together the readings sketch a picture of good old-fashioned family values. The parents of Jesus, themselves faithful to the practices of their religion, presented to God the child who had been first given to them by God. Like all parents, they were amazed at what his future would hold. Then under their watchful eye, he grew and became strong. Our children are one of our greatest treasures. Are they growing stronger under our watchful eye?

Sirach adds another dimension to this family picture. He reminds us that our future is rooted in the rich soil of our past. True wisdom for living is found in our elders, in those who have already lived wisely.

In a truly holy family all members are respected and cherished, nurtured and supported, united through the bond of love.

Dianne Bergant, C.S.A., is professor of biblical studies at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.

Readings: 
Readings: Sir 3:2-6, 12-14; Ps 128:1-5; Col 3:12-21; Lk 2:22-40
Prayer: 

• Reflect on how you might recommit yourself to your own family, to the family of the church, to the family of all humankind.

• Think about ways that Mary can indeed be a model for contemporary people.

• Pray for openness to God’s light and for the courage to follow wherever it leads you.