Happy Advent! This season is the perfect time to put Jesus first in our lives because that’s exactly what he did for us when he chose to leave the beauty of heaven and take on human flesh. For the next four weeks, we can marvel at the way Jesus humbled himself out of love for us. We can marvel at the fact that he was born into a real family: the Holy Family!
When I think about the Holy Family, I often imagine a perfect family: no sin (at least for Jesus and Mary!), no hurtful words or broken relationships, nothing but love and peace. And when I think about the Holy Family in this way, my family doesn’t seem to measure up. Jeannie and I, now married for thirty-eight years, really love each other, but I’m sure there are times when I annoy her or frustrate her. Sometimes one of us will say something hurtful or discouraging to the other—words that, once said, cannot be unsaid. And then there’s all the effort it sometimes takes to maintain good relationships with my adult children and their spouses!
But here is what I do know: God loves our families—yours and mine—every bit as much as he loves Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! He doesn’t dwell on the negatives when it comes to how we have cared for our spouse or how we have raised our children. He knows that we are all trying to love each other. Your love for your family, however imperfect it seems, is still a reflection of God the Father’s love for all of us. That’s why each of our families is its own unique reflection of the Holy Family.
Pray for Your Family! Many of us know the pain of strained or broken relationships with our children or with our spouse. Sometimes we aren’t even sure what happened. But whatever happened, the Lord is still right there with us in these difficult relationships. He is close to you and he is close to your spouse or child. So if he’s that close, you can feel free to ask him to help you take even the smallest step toward reconciliation. Don’t get discouraged if you get rebuffed. God is still close to you. You can trust that with every small step you take, you are helping your family to become a holier family.
So this Advent, pray with your spouse if you can. Pray together for your children and grandchildren. Lift them up to the Lord when you are at Mass. Pray that the grace of Jesus will be with them, even if they seem to lack faith. And when you are with them, always try to “love one another with mutual affection” (Romans 12:10). In all of these ways, you will be doing your part to set your family apart for the Lord. You will be helping them become a holy family.
May Jesus, Mary, and Joseph bless you and all your loved ones this Christmas!