Monday, December 27, 2010

Family Blueprint

Women of Faith:

The celebration of Christmas was followed yesterday by The Feast of the Holy Family. What an appropriate beginning to a New Year for our readings to give us instructions as to who, what, and how to treat and live with those we love and cherish the most, our family; and at a time when our activities are revolving around exactly that, spending time with family.

Our families may be big or small. We have our immediate family: our spouse, joined with children, siblings or parents (for those who are married) or for those who are not married, religious and single life, the church. We have our extended families, our aunts, uncles, and grandparents. And then we have our families at work and the family we sit beside each week at church. They in turn extend out to the family that we role model to when we leave the doors of the church each week.

It brought to mind the basic character instructions we were taught and that we try to teach our children from the earliest stages of our life: “Say Thank You,” “Listen to your Dad,” “Do what Your Mom said,” and “Tell your sister/brother you’re sorry.”

I don’t think we realized it then, and we might not even have realized it when we were teaching it, but we were actually teaching God’s blueprint for living a family life: Thanksgiving, Forgiveness and Honor of God’s family hierarchy.

“God sets a father in honor over his children; a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons. Whoever honors his father atones for sins, and preserves himself from them. When he prays, he is heard; he stores up riches who reveres his mother. Whoever honors his father is gladdened by children, and, when he prays, is heard.
‘Whoever reveres his father will live a long life; he who obeys his father brings comfort to his mother. 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.” Sir 3:2-6,

“Brothers and sisters: Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body.
“And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
“Wives, be subordinate to your husbands, as is proper in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and avoid any bitterness toward them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, so they may not become discouraged.” Col 3:12-21

God says it all: Husbands, Wives; Fathers, Mothers; Parents, Children; Sisters and Brothers—Respect, Love, Kindness, Humility, Gentleness and Patience, Forgiveness and Thankfulness; listen to each other and obey in God’s order—spouses to each other, children to their parents-- each of us taking care of the others with love. The same “order” of character skills we were taught at the very beginnings of our lives. The same “order” that God designed for our entire world to achieve peace, love and harmony for all.

It is so easy to read these readings and see where we need to improve; to see our sins and our failures, but more importantly also to know that God’s design is perfect and that if we strive to do it in His order we will achieve that peace and harmony in love which He has given us and that we all seek in our hearts, to find what many just call happiness.

Dear God, I sing your praise. Let Your word live richly in me and may Your wisdom guide me as we continue to celebrate Your birth in our families and throughout the New Year. Help me and all wives to listen to our husbands (and our children their fathers) to whom you have given authority in our houses. Bless them with your graces so that all fathers may love their families unselfishly as You have instructed. Give us as women, wives and daughters, the graces to live with gratitude, kindness, and compassion and always be ready to forgive those who have hurt our tender hearts. Help us each to forgive the other, AS we forgive them. Thank you for all of the blessings you have given us as families, and for the time this Christmas season to spend enjoying their presence in our lives. Amen.

Continue to enjoy your family this Christmas season and throughout the New Year.
Wishing you Peace and Love, given in gratitude and forgiveness,

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