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The Feast of the Holy Family draws its inspiration from the life of Joseph, Mary and Jesus. The opening prayer (the Collect) describes the Holy Family as dazzling and to be highly esteemed “…who were pleased to give us the shining example of the Holy Family”, asks God “graciously grant that we may imitate them in practicing the virtues of family life and in the bond of charity…” The sacred writings didn't provide much details how Jesus was raised. However, towards the end of the gospel mentions the fruit of his upbringing, not to mention, his dying on the cross sealed his commitment and erased any doubt.

The Holy Family is not without controversy. Even before the birth of Jesus, both Mary and Joseph underwent series of obstacles as a couple. Mary was deeply troubled and pondered things in her heart following the strange message from a divine messenger. Joseph freaked out until an Angel appeared to him in a dream. As a family, they had no option but to flee as refugees. So, there really is no reason to feel bad and be ashamed of our own every time an attempt at comparison is made. The fact that they didn't get a free ride gives us every reason to imitate them. Theirs was a life marked by an extraordinary sense of faith with the strong guidance of a well-informed conscience.

Faced with stark realities, a common thread exists in the confessional lament (not sacramental) of parents and grandparents at the departure of their children in faith (national surveys support this claim), the disintegration of sacred values and the breakdown of social structures. I did everything to raise my children in faith but all of them are gone. What did I do wrong? What can I do to bring/lure them back? There are no easy answers and/or solutions. Such a confession is particularly alarming to me the pastor should it happen to the kids in the next generation. Such an unfortunate phenomenon can be traced back into the limited time (which means nothing at all) devoted in religious education, easily described as the interplay and the engagement between family, composed of parents/guardians in a single household (the basic facet of society) and the parish community (the ground level of the church) where real action takes place.

The book of Sirach (also called Ecclesiasticus – or the church book) which contains religious instructions against the contemporary culture. He carefully explained the fourth commandment, “honor your parents.” The Hebrew word used is ‘kavod’, to glorify or to weigh with heavy honors. The author says “Whoever honors his father atones for sins, and preserves himself from. When he prays, he is heard.  What a loaded text. He also mentions that “kindness to a father will not be forgotten, firmly planted against the debt of your sins – a house raised in justice to you” is like an investment. Paul extends the honoring of parents to the entire Christian community. The church is an extension of the domestic family where we learn the value of forgiveness. Our family is God's gift to us and our efforts to anchor our lives to him is our humble response. It starts with God and ends with him. Amen.