It was Fr. Robert Barron who set my homily thinking off this week in preparation for this Sunday’s feast of the Holy Family. In his Word on Fire homily for the feast (you can hear it at this link) he begins by asking what is it that make a family “holy”?
There are many things that make a family healthy (physically and emotionally), good and intelligent. But it would be a tragedy if a Christian family settled for anything less than holiness.
Fr. Barron emphasises the fact that the holiness that is the mark of the Christian family is lived only when all members of the family lives above all else in relationship with God. It is this divine relationship, lived in every moment, that gives the ability to live in love in every moment.
In 2013 Pope Francis expressed this in very practical terms. He is big on simplicity, not least of all in his words and manner of speaking. He often gives a take-home catch phrase as he did yesterday speaking on the feast of the Holy Family. You can read the complete text at the link below, but the three words that he sees as essential in family life are “excuse me,” (some have translated this as “please”) “I’m sorry,” and “thank you.”
“Today our contemplation of the Holy Family lets itself be drawn also by the simplicity of the life they lead at Nazareth. It is an example that is very good for our families, it helps them further to become communities of love and reconciliation in which tenderness, mutual help and reciprocal forgiveness are experienced. Let us remember the 3 key phrases for a life of peace and joy in the family: excuse me, thank you, I’m sorry. In a family when you are not intrusive but say “excuse me,” when you are not self-centered but say “thank you,” and when you realize that you have done something wrong and you say “I’m sorry,” in that family there is peace and joy. Let us remember these 3 phrases. But we can say them all together: excuse me, thank you, I’m sorry. (The people gathered in St. Peter’s Square then repeated the words after the Holy Father.)