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The “HOLY FAMILY”: A Model for our families

Today is the first Sunday of the Year, the Solemnity of the Holy Family. The 1st reading (Sir 3:2- 6, 12-14) and the 2nd reading (Col 3:12-21 or 3:12-17) come together to paint a picture of how a Christ-centered family should function by outlining how each member of the family ought to act in their various roles.

In the first reading, St. Paul writes, “Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.” Submission here is not an act of debasement but a voluntary choice that the wife makes for the greater good of the family. It is a faith issue, recognizing the husband as the God-appointed leader of the household, and it is done “as is fitting in the Lord.” So, a woman whose husband is cruel, violent, demeaning, and overbearing is not held unto this obligation because the Lord detests such debasement as Scripture says: "Whatever you do to the least of these children of mine, you are doing it to me (Ref. Mathew 25: 40ff). Respect for a husband, as God’s appointed head of the family, is what Scripture demands of any wife. It is respect out of love and regard for the one a wife compliments as her half. No matter a woman's financial, social, and political status, marriage requires her to be respectful and submissive to her husband. It is not misogyny; it is divinely appointed.

Scripture also says, “Husbands love your wives and do not be harsh with them.” The word for love used here is similar to Christ's love for His church—selfless, sacrificial, sanctifying, and satisfying—with an unceasing care and loving service for his wife’s wellbeing. Scripture says that a man should always keep in mind who his wife is—a gift from God (Proverb 18:22), a partner for life (Gen 2:24), and a mother of his children (Gen 4:1).

Shifting to children, St. Paul says, “Children obey your parents in everything; for this is pleasing to the Lord,” and repeats the fourth commandment, “Honor your father and mother.” Obedience to parents is a good measure of Christ-likeness. The book of Sirach states that honoring parents is a sign of righteousness, atones for sins (3:3,14), disposes God to hear and answer the prayers of those who exercise this virtue (3:5), and guarantees long life, prosperity, and temporal power (3:6-7). The patience required for the care of an elderly parent is said to strengthen character and that God looks upon children offering such care with compassion (3:12-14) and that respect due to parents is not something we can neglect without severe consequences, noting that honoring our parents is something that God set up to orient us toward Himself. Honoring our parents is not just about listening and obeying them; it also entails not taking for granted the sacrifices they make for us, helping out with shores in the house, learning to disagree with them without being insulting and abusive, being patient with them, understanding that they may insights that we don’t have because of their experience, staying not just in contact but connected with them, making sure they are well taken care of in their old age, making sure they enjoy their grandchildren, and forgiving their shortcomings. Scripture also urges parents not to embitter their children, lest they become discouraged (Ref. Col 3:18- 21).

While parents have authority over their children, they are not supposed to overdo it—creating a home that is an overbearing prison, setting goals too high for children to meet, being inconsistent with their promises, lacking in praise and appreciation, being absent in the life of their children, or creating favoritisms leading to sibling jealousy. Children become discouraged when they cannot please, properly obey, or secure a blessing from their parents. Such discouragement can easily lead to depression, withdrawal, or rebellious behaviors.

May the blessings of the Holy Family be ours now and forever! Amen].

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