Saturday, December 29, 2012

Feast of the Holy Family

December 30, 2012

Because the challenges that confront many families are at time overwhelming (what some may describe as "too much to bear"), this reflection will be focused on the man and woman who are the mainstays of every family be it holy or not!  Today I know many men and women who are grand models of a happy marriage, happy foundations and leaders for a happy family.  Likewise, unfortunately, there are too many cases of the opposite where there is doubt, pain, confusion and the missing key to every successful marriage ... understanding how much of one's self is strengthened by investing all that is possible in assisting one's partner in coming to know him/herself and his/her greatness that is encouraged by the partner's love for the other.

Today's first reading (Sir 3:2-6, 12-14) is a wonderful tribute to parents, to husbands and wives.  The message there surely makes evident the dignity marriage bestows upon the "I do-ers."  When the newly "ordained" couple stand before their families and friends, awaiting the signal to take the walk down the aisle, despite all their strong proclamations and pledges of unquestionable love for each other, it is but the first of many steps, many walks of a life-long commitment to each other.  There will be many bridges ahead, many streams to be crossed in the building of a happy and holy family.

You may recall the wit (and wisdom!!) of Groucho Marx.  Once he joked that "marriage is a grand institution" ... (pregnant pause) ... "if you like living in an institution."  And as those who assist in the preparation of candidates for life in the institution of marriage (not just a wedding day) hopefully remind the love-struck spouses-to-be that their commitments are made first and foremost to God!  Yes, to God.  Many do not see that reality.  This commitment to God, however, is made through the commitment of each spouse to the other.  Yes, each spouse makes the "I do" pledge to be an "instrument of God's continuing his creation of the spouse."  This is the reality that makes a happy family, a holy family. A husband pledges to God that he will do all he can to be God's assistant in bringing out all that his spouse will do to be the woman of his life. Every groom is saying to his bride that he will love her into more life, honor who she will become through the ups and downs, sickness or good health and ultimately will present her to God in heartfelt gratitude.

The bride commits herself in the same vocation.  She will do all she can to make her husband become more than he could without God's graces coming to himself through his wife.  She will be the source of his life.  She will be the rock of support for her knight in shining armor.  Because of his wife, a good husband will love himself more as he gives her his love that will strengthen her acceptance of herself in love.

So, on this day when we recall the Holy Family of Nazareth, I know it is important to consider the challenges to and indeed the honored state of both husband and wife, bride and groom.  Without each other working to help develop the greatness of each other, there will never be the fullness marriage is meant to be for bride and groom, husband and wife and, ultimately, God willing, Mom and Dad.

It is when the love of God is reflected by a husband and wife for one another that the love of God for his Son, Jesus, will be made manifest in yet another holy and happy family.

May God bless you brides and grooms, husbands and wives, Moms and Dads because your lives together are meant to be holy and happy.