It is simply and inescapably true that the family atmosphere, the family influence in the deepest and the most formative element in a person’s life. Psychologists tell us that by the time a child has reached the age of five or six, the basic value choices in life had already been made, and probably will not be changed. Decisions, perceptions such as “is the world safe, or is it not? Are people trustworthy, or are they not? Am I good and capable, or am I not? What do I respect, what valuable to me, what is not?”
This feast of the Holy Family emphasises for us that it is intimate companionship with other people and only that way, that one becomes human, at least what God means by human. It is by such intimate interaction that a person learns to be sensitive to the presence, the needs, the rights of other human beings.
It is only in such interaction that a person comes to see oneself as in individual with one’s own rights and responsibilities. Simply enough, it is in such interaction that a person learns to love, and that is indeed something that must be learned.
No matter how the form of family living may change over the years, the purpose remains the same, that is; generating an atmosphere designed to promote the growth of sensitive, loving human beings, who know what it means to share their life with others, and who feel comfortable willing to do so.
This takes real effort. One of the greatest challenges facing anyone who proposes to live in the company of others is simply to do that – to actively, pointedly arrange one’s life so that there in time for the gathering, for the family.
When other concerns, no matter how noble, begin to leave no time to be with the family, then it is in time to do some honest soul searching.
Let us treasure very carefully our family life. It is a valuable thing. It is meant by God’s design, to provide us with powers we desperately need.
Christ spent thirty years of life doing just that and that, every bit as much as his last three years, brought salvation.
The holy family was no accident. Neither must be ours.