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When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord…Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon…There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.
What makes the Holy Family holy? I am more than convinced it is their faith. The Holy Family is a holy family because it is a strong family, and a strong family is a family that is strong in virtue and in faith.
This is the problem with our families today. They crumble and fall and end up upside down faster and easier than we would like to admit. Roles are reversed: children command and parents obey. And parents do not seem to mind. After all, who wouldn’t mind having someone make decisions for you? What a perfect way to point the finger at a parent, a teacher, a coach, a spouse and a priest; that is, someone other than yourself!
Today we drove by a neighborhood in Jerusalem that is inhabited by a sect of ultra-orthodox Jews. These men and women neither work or pay taxes. They do not vote nor do they participate in any way with the State of Israel, except enrolling themselves on its welfare system. Their young, in fact, do not even serve in the military! I asked our tour guide, “How can this be?” He told me flat out, “They do not believe in the State of Israel. They do not even speak Hebrew. They speak Yiddish. They are against the State of Israel because it is not governed the way they would want to see it governed…by religious men! Therefore, they distance themselves from others, exclude others from entering their neighborhoods and defend their families and way of life to death!”
Interesting enough, the number of ultra-orthodox Jews is on the rise. Why? Because their faith is strong and that makes their families strong. They have large families, eight to nine children per family. Dating is out of the question. All marriages are arranged by a matchmaker who knows everyone by name. The divorce rate among them is negligible, even though divorce is allowed.
What about us? How are we doing back in the United States of America, home of the free? Well, the divorce rate among married couples is fast approaching 3:4. The number of children per family is shrinking. We are witnessing an alarming increase in unmarried couples, divorced couples, single parent households, etc… What have been the consequences? Devastating! Our children grow up weak. They stand up for nothing and believe in nothing except for a few fuzzy sentimental notions such as peace, love and civic duty. They are insecure about themselves; fear grips them about their looks, their weight, and their datability. What is missing is faith in God, faith in His ways, faith in family and faith in the future. A good dose of virtue and faith is what every single family in America is in need of. Why not? They seem to take daily doses of just about everything, why not a single shot of faith and virtue? After all, this is all the Holy Family possessed. This is all we need too.
O God, who were pleased to give us the shining example of the Holy Family, graciously grant that we may imitate them in practicing the virtues of family life and in the bonds of charity, and so, in the joy of your house, delight one day in eternal rewards. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (from today’s Collect)