Fr. Tim Davison was born and raised in Gallipolis, Ohio and is a product of St. Louis Church there. Currently, he is pastor of a large parish in Tulsa, Oklahoma. While visiting his ailing father, he gave this very eloquent and meaningful sermon on the Feast of the Holy Family December 27, 2009 in the church where he grew up. It's a beautiful reflection on the Holy Family and what the Christian family should be.
THE HOLY FAMILY AND OUR PARTICULAR FAMILIES
By Fr. Tim Davison
For Christians the Holy Family is the most perfect example of what every Christian family should be. And we need models to help us to strive toward the very best family possible. What do we see in the Holy Family living together in Nazareth that families today can try to imitate?
Obedience. St. Luke tells us that Jesus, the Son of God was obedient to Mary and Joseph. And so we see obedience as one of the virtues that even Jesus practiced in His youth. It is a fact that many children would do well to imitate. Obedience to parents is a Christian virtue that can incline children to practice a loving obedience toward God which is so vital for the Christian development. As long as parents are not commanding their children to sin, the children should obey their parents as the representatives of God, Our Heavenly Father. That is why the Fourth Commandment is listed as the first one among the ones that deal with our relationship toward our neighbor.
As a priest I have seen how destructive toward the family’s peace and well-being is the spirit of disobedience.
Prayer & Teaching the Faith. What else do we see in the Holy Family that families today should seek to imitate? Undoubtedly Mary and Joseph taught Jesus His prayers and gave Him good example by their own lives of piety and reverence toward God and the holy things of God. They took Him to Jerusalem, the center of their religious practice of the faith, and fulfilled the precepts of the Jewish religious law. Jesus, even though He was God’s Son, still grew in human understanding and love as He practiced His Jewish religion. In observing the religious law the Holy Family left us an example. Prayer and obedience to God’s law are part of the picture for a family that is a school for Christian life. How many families neglect daily prayer together and obedience to God’s commands to their own detriment.
Work Ethic. Another important element that we see in the Holy Family’s life together is work. Certainly there were times of rest, but also time to work in the home or in the shop. Idleness and wasting time were not part of the picture for the Holy Family nor should they be for families today.
Helpfulness, Generosity, and Sensitivity to the Needs of Family Members. Along with work comes helpfulness to one another. Thinking of others and their needs, being generous in offering help to each other, and overcoming laziness is a very important aspect of life for a Christian family that desires to live in a holy way. Again, the family is a school to teach the virtues that children need in order to mature in the faith and learn to put their gifts at the service of one another. Healthy family life is hard work in itself. There are many setbacks and headaches and heartaches along the way.
Some Silence. But through it all Christian families should keep in view the life of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in Nazareth. How much silence was observed in that holy house? I can imagine that there was ample opportunity for silent reflection to occur. Is that possible in modern homes? Anything is possible if one truly desires it. Perhaps it is recognizing the value of silence that has been forgotten today in many homes.
The family today experiences many challenges. So many marriages fail. So many distractions are present in the homes with the tv and internet, and all the many social activities that children are involved in at school, etc. It can be very difficult to find time together in a meaningful and constructive way. At times the parents have to stop and really think deeply about how to make sure that their family is a school for teaching true Christian virtues and values. It takes a lot of prayer and a lot of work to create a true domestic Church where God is obeyed, loved, and honored and where each member of the family is truly helped to live a Christian life.
The family is the basic building block of any society. A society is only as strong as its families. Holy families that pray together especially the holy rosary are helping to build a strong tomorrow for the Church and Society. It is certainly worth all the hard work and effort involved because where there are healthy, happy, generous, and obedient children and where parents are truly guiding and teaching the children the Christian virtues the whole society benefits. Let us pray to the Holy Family of Nazareth……Jesus, Mary and Joseph for all families today.