With a last name like Holy, my family and I often get some interesting looks and
funny comments. I usually just reply, “We’re working on it!” Last year, we even
signed our Christmas letter, “The Holy Family,” pretty confident that no one would
mistake us for THE Holy Family. Scripture gives us few details about Jesus’ earthly
family, but what we can glean provides some important insights that may help us
strengthen our own families.
First, the Holy Family teaches us the value of passing on the faith to our children.
Beginning when Jesus is only days old, His parents present Him at the temple
according to Jewish custom.1 This week’s Gospel then recounts that Mary and Joseph
made the trip to Jerusalem every year for the Passover. Following the teachings and
practices of their faith is clearly an essential part of their lives, not mere ritual. Such
a solid foundation of faith contributes to the good of the entire family as well as to
the spiritual growth of each member.
Later, when Mary and Joseph find Jesus in the temple after days of anxious
searching, Mary doesn’t hesitate to admonish her Son for not having told them of
His whereabouts. She’s not angry – the love and concern in her voice is evident.
Yet Mary understands that Jesus has been placed in their care and takes this
responsibility to heart. For His part, Jesus respects His parents’ position and
willingly responds. The Gospel says that “he went down with them and came to
Nazareth, and was obedient to them…” (Lk 2:51).
As seen here, the environment of love and mutual respect fostered in the family
gives children the chance to grow and mature naturally, allowing them to exert their freedom
while still being respectful of their parents’ authority. The way children experience
love, respect, and forgiveness in the family impacts not only their own development,
but also the way they come to see God. What an awesome responsibility we as
parents have in bringing up our children! With God’s grace, we do not have to do it
– Kelley Holy
1 Cf. Lk 2:22.