My favorite part of the Christmas season has always been time with family. I’m sure many of you feel the same, and long for that time even more this year. As we continue on doing the best we can, we are reminded this week of the importance that family plays in our lives.
On this Feast of the Holy Family, we are reminded of where this comes from, because we are reminded that this is how God made us. There are few things more clear in Scripture than the fact that God made us all a part of a family on purpose. Of course, God reinforced this by not only living a human life, but doing it as part of a family.
With the many aspects of family life, the role each of us plays depends most upon the relationships we have to the others around us. This changes from time to time, and the events that bring us together as extended families can change the dynamics a bit. Our reading from Sirach today points us toward something else that changes our relationships and the roles we play: age. We are often told that we should honor our fathers and mothers, but because we have been told this since we were very young, we forget that it has all sorts of meanings.
My son, take care of your father when he is old;
grieve him not as long as he lives.
Even if his mind fail, be considerate of him;
revile him not all the days of his life;
kindness to a father will not be forgotten,
firmly planted against the debt of your sins
—a house raised in justice to you.
Sirach reminds us here that to be the faithful son or daughter you are meant to be, your role may change a bit as your parents get older. This is a very difficult balance to strike, as we can seem pushy or uncaring when we misjudge the situation (a good dose of graciousness on both sides help a lot). I so admire the people I see who get this right, and I really feel for all who are still trying to get it right. The main thing is that we continue making the effort, and that the effort be made out of the love we have for our parents. Let us honor our fathers and mothers in that way, and so become worthy of the love we share.