30 Dec 2016
Feast of the Holy Family
People in our lives can be both a blessing and a pain in the neck. Whether it’s at home, at school, at work, in the parish, on the roads and highways, or wherever it can be a blessing or a pain to interact with others. But that’s part of the human experience—the experience of being in relationship with our fellow human beings.
I remember when I was in the first stages of thinking about priesthood, I was also thinking about religious life. So I checked out various communities of friars or monks. And what I discovered very quickly is that they’re rather ordinary people. They enjoy each other, but they also get on each other’s nerves. And that was a revelation to me: the idea that “holy people” don’t always get along with each other.
But what sets those religious communities apart is that they’re very intentional about living with each other, and working through their difficulties to be a strong family. They really try to live as Christ lived; they really try to see each other as brothers (or sisters) in Christ, and treat them as such. They take to heart the words of Saint Paul: “Whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus” [Col 3:16].
If there’s a “key” to family living it might be that—act as Christ would act. Saint Paul lists a bunch of ways to do that: be compassionate, kind, humble, gentle, patient, forgiving, peaceful of heart, and thankful. And that all sounds wonderful, but to really act toward others as Christ would act is hard work. It’s hard work, and sometimes it’s just plain frustrating.
Forgiveness isn’t always easy. Being kind doesn’t always just happen. And being gentle and patient can just grate your soul. But doing this hard work is what makes our families, our parish, and our friendships holy and good. Having a holy family, holy friendships, and a holy parish isn’t easy. It takes work. But the fruit of our labors is a holy family, holy friendships, and a holy parish. The work is worth it.