Friday, December 30, 2011

The Feast Day of the Holy Family

Today we celebrate the Holy Family.  This feast day is relatively recent; we've only been celebrating the Holy Family for the past 300 years or so.  Our idea of family, especially a family unit separate from multiple generations, after all, is really rather modern.

It's interesting to take up this feast day after all these days where we've celebrated Mary, and her decision to be the Mother of Jesus.  It's a great counterpoint to remember that fathers have a role in the family too. 

I always wonder if these kind of feast days bring pain to people who grew up in dysfunctional families.  I know plenty of people who have been scarred in ways that only family can do.  What do they take away from these feast day?  Despair in all the ways that families can hurt each other?  Hope that families can really be a sacramental rendering of the love of God?

Below you see a huge sculpture, made from a tree that toppled in a storm, of the Holy Family fleeing Herod's murderous intent.  I think of the Holy Family as refugee family, fleeing danger, with only the clothes on their back.  I think of all the families torn apart or torn away from their homeland because of terrible dictators.  I yearn for the day to come when we will not experience these fissures in the family.

Here is a prayer I wrote for this day:

Parent God, you know the many ways our families can fail us.  Please remind us of the perfection in family that we are called to model.  Please give us the strength and fortitude to create the family dynamics you would have us enjoy.  Please give us the courage to minister to those who have not had good family experiences.  And most of us, please give us the comfort of knowing that the restoration of creation is underway, with families that will be whole, not fractured, when all our members will be accounted for, when no one will go missing.

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