Family, family life, indeed family violence, all feature in and on our news media all too often. The Christmas and New Year period regularly feature examples of breakdowns whilst the feasting tries to raise the bar and celebrate the ideal of family life. Luke reminds us today that some people in Israel welcomed Jesus early in his life such as Simeon and Anna; we know from other sources that others were indifferent or, like Herod, positively opposed. It appears that some things remain the same.
We are called to raise the banner for family. We are asked to recall for all the wonderment of the birth of a child. The dangerous passage has been breached and new life is facing daylight. The local world changes. The new parents are suddenly faced with challenges that no amount of preparation has, or could, enable them to be conscious of the changes coming to their lives. They face the beginning of being “our family”.
And so begin all the hopes and fears. How do we nurture and shape the new life just arrived?
Like Joseph and Mary, we ought to present the new life to the author of all life in an act of thanksgiving. Baptism is one such act, but it is an act that demands follow up and, in time, Confirmation and Eucharist.
Opportunity ought to be given; that people like Simeon and Anna are able to rejoice and give praise for the new life in the community. We may need such people to enable the community to withstand the challenges, the occasional fragility the sadness’s that can rock the family unit. All families at some time or other will have the Mary experience: “a sword will pierce your own soul too”…but not destroy!
Make family day a day of conscious reflection and thanksgiving. And, as Pope Francis asked for in his prayer intention for December, “may the elderly (all over 35 ed.), sustained by families and Christian Communities, apply their wisdom and experience to spreading the faith and forming the new generations.”
P.S. All God’s blessings for the New Year.