Your family can be holy when you choose to love your spouse, children and parents in spite of hurts. Photo: JOAN SOONG
Once I was discussing with a couple that “Scripture says: Be holy for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). And I continued, “What the verse means is that we are called to holiness, as persons, and as a family.”
The couple protested, “Ours is not the Holy Family. We are not Joseph, Mary and Jesus. How can we be holy?”
What they were trying to say was that they did not think they were special persons like the family of Jesus.
They judged that they lacked that something extra, so they did not think their family could be holy.
Jesus, Joseph and Mary are, of course, different from us, and Jesus is truly the Son of God while you and I are not.
Yet the fact is that Jesus humbled Himself to come among us to share in our human conditions; He lived like one of us.
Joseph and Mary were two ordinary village folks who experienced the weaknesses, hardships and struggles of life. Their family was holy not because they had something special, but they were ordinary people living life according to God’s plan for them.
They were the Holy Family because they cooperated with God and allowed His power and love to work within them.
Your family can be holy when you allow the life and love of God to be manifested in it, when you choose to love your spouse in spite of the hurts you experience, when you choose to listen to your parents even though you judge them to be too nagging, when you choose to care for your children though they seem to be rebellious.
Married couples who constantly “make the decision to love” stay in relationship with each other and with God. This is a significant concept that is advocated in the Marriage Encounter Weekend programme. When love becomes a way of life at home, your family is holy.
In his book Dwelling in God’s Love, Fr Frans de Ridder quoted Jacintha’s description of holiness in her relationship with Timothy, her handicapped child.
“In Timothy’s presence I experience God. Isn’t that the definition of a sacrament: an outward sign of inward grace? He is in full communion with God, and just looking at him, loving him and being loved by Timothy I experience God’s abundant grace”, she said.
“He is God’s gift to us. I am not ashamed of bringing him to church and to the supermarket. He is a special grace to all.”
Many parents complain that parenting is difficult. It is because they use their time, money and energy on the wrong things. They often place their emphasis on their children’s achievements, most of all on their studies.
Actually only one thing is necessary – love them and teach them to love others. Then they will be able to experience God’s presence, and be joyful and be disposed to learn.
Without holiness in the family, spouses cannot enjoy greater intimacy, parents cannot be satisfied, and the children will not be happy.
By Fr Henry Siew
Fr Siew is a presenting priest in the Marriage Encounter Weekend programme. The website is http://www.marriage-encounter-sg.org/