family

Dec 30, 2022

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A thought for today’s Feast of the Holy Family:

For most of the history of human civilisation the term family has been used to speak of a community of love: parents and children together  with a complex and diverse range of relationship connections through blood, legal contract and friendship ties.

Many of the families that I knew as a child embraced children who were adopted, grandparents raising their grandchildren, and extended families sharing the responsibilities of raising children and supporting elderly parents who were sick or struggling.

Even more-so today, families that have been damaged or broken through death or divorce are renewed with new relationships of love.

For most, these new families have formed after much struggle, grief and pain. The good news is that God is great at writing straight with the crooked lines of our lives, and for those who are able to look beyond the pain new life is waiting.

Jesus was raised in a family of love which doesn’t meet the narrow understanding of nuclear family: this without even taking into account the active role of the Holy Spirit in the birth of Jesus. Healthy families have always been “extended” and include not only biological relations but friends and those who are in need.

The ministry of Jesus institutes a new form of family. God is now Our Father and even (in the intimate language of Jesus) our “abba”, our papa and our daddy. Now we are literally the children of God. We speak of Mary as our Mother, and our sisters and brothers are those who look to the one Father.

Jesus shocks those who tell him that his family have arrived to see him. He seems to ignore his visitors responding instead  “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

And the ultimate is that we are united in the Eucharist in a way that makes us blood relatives. Such a renewed family life brings hope to all who struggle with exclusive human definitions of family life.

Tensions, struggles, break-down and even break-up of family relationships is the greatest of human agonies. All of us have experienced at least a taste of this pain in our families of origin and in the families we are part of today. Too often our generous and well-intentioned efforts to resolve tensions and to bring healing seem to come to nothing.

People of faith will be able to live with the ambiguity of imperfection in our families, and while doing all we can to live out our desire for healing and reconciliation where necessary, will realise that in the end some tensions can only be resolved by God and in God’s time.

We are able to live with this perspective because God’s definition of family is much broader than our own and Jesus our brother continues to provide us with brothers and sisters who then become for us a new, deeper and eternal family of faith.

Take a couple of minutes now to call to mind a family member with whom you experience tension. Invite the Holy Spirit to enter every aspect of this relationship, bringing healing, forgiveness and a new experience of love.

Be still and silent for a few moments, perhaps one minute, simply resting with your renewed desire for healing and reconciliation in this relationship.

Consider whether a practical gesture of healing is useful and timely today, perhaps an email, written note, phone call or text message. Remember write, speak and act ONLY in ways that you are confident the Holy Spirit intends.

Ask Jesus to free you from all hurt and lack of harmony so that you can enter 2023 without this burden and with a renewed desire for the harmony and peace the Holy Spirit of Jesus can bring.

Twelve months ago a father (with now adult children) shared with me a prayer he has prayed daily for years. Here it is:

 

8 Comments

  1. Thank you Father for this reflection on family, so timely at the moment. Our family is having struggles at the moment. I have a sister and niece with cancer.

    Reply
  2. Amen to that.
    I tried to get back in communication with my brothers and sisters, whatever i did it made it only worse.
    So now I pray every day, and rely on God’s will.

    Reply
  3. Thank you so much for today’s reflection. We really needed to read this.

    Reply
  4. F A M I L Y R E L A T I O N S H I P S

    As Christians, we know that we are not designed to live ignoring our relationships. We are aware that it is not only unhealthy but it is not the way we are called to live our lives.

    We are blessed when we realize the impact of investing in the lives of one another. Time spent in daily friction, anger, estrangement, just exacerbates our brokenness and causes ill feelings, and sickness, and weakens our relationships.

    Respecting and recognizing the very essence of Scripture – the redemptive story of God’s Love for Humanity – transforms our ability to turn our hurts over to God and to forgive and bring healing for ourselves and others.

    I have learned through my journey in life that companionship and understanding are important to my Creator God and myself and that healing and reconciliation are the stepping stones to a harmonious, peaceful, and loving family life.

    My prayer this morning is for the continuation of visionary family ministries like your
    “Food For Faith” Ministry, Father John, to strengthen and evolve our Church of Love through ongoing global reformations of Family Discipleship.

    Reply
  5. This reflection has renewed invigorated the importance ofmy role as a father & husband.
    This can be difficult nowdays with strong willed wives & daughters.
    Nevertheless men we need to stand up, be strong but gentle & caring & be the men God calls us to be as leaders in our families.
    Understanding, embracing this means denying ourselves ar times but embracing our role wholeheartedly is where it starts & must continue

    Reply
  6. Thank you, very timely.

    Reply
  7. A Reflection to pass on to my children – for their children. Thank you. Family is so important, but it’s the Love of the Lord and gets we through each day. Thank you for the positive Reflection.

    Reply
  8. This prayer is beautiful and a wonderful way to thank God for the joys that my children bring to me, especially as I am growing older and a little forgetful.

    Reply

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