The feast of the Holy Family presents us with a somewhat different picture of family and family values. The typical representation here is not that of the circle, the cozy fireplace and the emotional cauldron; family rather concentrates on the idea of journey, stresses movement and suggests dynamism. The Holy Family is not presented as an Icon of Harmony or a merrily pulsating cell of happy hobbits; on the contrary, the Holy Family emerges from the liturgical texts as the model of community growth and illustrates in the most fortunate of ways the contents of Article 39 of the Society of Mary's Rule of Life which says: "Our communities provide a climate of continuing growth which fosters fidelity to the Spirit of the Lord, develops the gifts God has given each one, and strengthens the entire body."
Joseph seeks the preservation of the child according to God's will, in fidelity to the Spirit of the Lord. The Holy Family's being called from Egypt reflects the primal experience of Israel's enslavement and liberation the exodus, the story basic to our vigil at Easter. For Matthew and his community, this child is a sign of a new exodus, of new freedom.
In the eye of the political beholder, the Holy Family may illustrate the thorny problem of political refugees and the tragic victims of mindless political power struggles. The truth of the matter is that the Holy Family exemplifies the journey mentality of those who believe in the both challenging and arduous ways of God Incarnate.
Journeys are central to the complete story about God and us. The Magi, the Holy Family, Jesus and His disciples all undertake them. All journeys are responses to revelations of truth that engage, fascinate and attract us to travel the road together. Fascination is empowered by trust and lies at the heart of the liberating good news. Contemporary spiritual literature uses the journey-theme in various ways: It speaks of breaking out into unknown territory, of integrating all dimensions of human life, of passage spirituality, of thresholds and second journeys. It also invites us on a pilgrimage toward the unity of our religious personality, a pilgrimage where human loneliness comes to rest in the convivencia of the Eucharist, where human desire finds fulfillment in the prayer of the heart, and where the pilgrimage of a soul together with like-minded souls leads into the wonderfully communicative silence of the Lord.
Unfortunately, contemporary spirituality too often remains oblivious to the fact that the first, and maybe foremost, vehicle of journey spirituality is the family. The family represents a variety of individual and communal journeys, journeys traveled and journeys yet to travel, a complementarily of ways from which new journeys will spring. The road least traveled of the child may trigger and coincide with the second journey of father and mother.
Abraham Lincoln said, "There is just one way to bring up a child in the way he should go, and that is to travel that way yourself." Don't send your children to school to learn to become something, be that "something" yourself. And when you doubt your ability to be a primal teacher for your family just remember that "an ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy." Also recall the Indian echo of that Spanish proverb: "One guru is worth ten paid teachers. One father is worth a hundred gurus. And one mother is worth one hundred fathers."
And so, as we celebrate the Holy Family, let us remind each other that family is a vehicle of journey spirituality, that community is a community of growth, and that in the process of growth of the whole community each one of us plays three roles: most often that of the child, sometimes that of the father, and, unfortunately, not often enough that of the mother.
The liturgy of today's feast calls for the return to that which is basic to a community of growth, namely: care, love and a healthy respect for one another that includes mutual correction. So let us put on this kind of kindness. It will help us to be child and encourage us to become more father and mother.