As I write this morning, we are snowed in after a large amount of snow fell in our city and surrounding areas yesterday. The temperatures are at record lows and it’s good to be in a warm house drinking coffee, reflecting on the past few days of Christmas and just life in general. We are back to just the three of us, plus the dog, and the house seems kind of quiet without the people I affectionately call “the big kids” who have gone back to their own routines.
There’s a Holy Family woodcarving on the piano next to the couch that catches my eye. It was a gift from a student I taught years ago at a local Catholic school and it has become a treasured beacon of hope. Through the years, I have turned to the Holy Family in prayer, asking for guidance and strength and sometimes just in prayers of thanksgiving. I know my own family is far from perfect and our household is often quite chaotic. But the Holy Family woodcarving on the piano is a visual reminder of something much greater than us, and that is the love of two parents for their new child, who just happened to also be the Son of God. Is that mind-blowing? Of course. But it’s also oddly comforting. Mary and Joseph, of their own free will, made it all work. They chose to stick together and follow God’s plan and that would unfold based on nothing more than trust…and love.
Through the years I have come to realize that being a holy family is not necessarily being a perfect family. Just like the snowstorm altered some of our plans and we had to adjust our dreams to fit the current realities of weather and time, in families we often need to compromise. Sometimes this works and other times conflicts arise because feelings get hurt in the process. But if we keep love of God and others in the equation, things usually work out. Not perfectly, but things do work out!
The Feast of the Holy Family’s Second Reading from St. Paul to the Colossians will be the words to guide me through this upcoming New Year, and I hope they might be of comfort to you today, too:
Brothers and sisters:
Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,
heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,
bearing with one another and forgiving one another,
if one has a grievance against another;
as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.
And over all these put on love,
that is, the bond of perfection.
And let the peace of Christ control your hearts,
the peace into which you were also called in one body.
And be thankful.