By Roxane B. Salonen

 

“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.”  ~ Colossians 3:16

 

At the end of every Marriage Encounter Community meeting, we couples would gather in a circle and sing the 1960s song, “I’ll Never Find Another You,” signaling the end of the private sharing portion and the beginning of a potluck meal. 

Our children would be in another room playing, but at the song’s beginning, some would inevitably emerge, watching us huddled together, singing this cheesy song. Their smiles said it all.

I realized then how much these signs of love mean to our children. In a world of family disunity, it’s striking when parents see one another as irreplaceable and voice it out loud.

Fr. Theodore Hesburgh once said, “The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.” This never-married priest claimed a deep truth about marriage: the security offered to children through their parents’ love and commitment to one another. Maybe he learned it from his parents or, perhaps, from Joseph and Mary.

 Seeing the gift of each other

Joseph’s commitment to Mary, and hers to him, brought an unquestionable security into Jesus’ life. God sent his only Son not just into the world but into an earthly family. Just as Jesus is to be a model for us, his family is meant to be the blueprint for our families. 

But how can we possibly follow their example of holiness?

My husband and I were slow to realize the importance of visibly loving and prioritizing each other. Often so busy trying to have our own needs met within the chaotic context of child-rearing, we missed recognizing and acknowledging the gift in front of us, to the detriment of our children. The Holy Family’s life just seemed too out of reach.

Holy=centered on Jesus

On the Feast of the Holy Family in 2018, Pope Francis said, “The family of Nazareth is holy because it was centered on Jesus.” He didn’t say they were holy because they were perfect—despite being about as perfect as a family could be. Instead, their holiness came from rightly ordered priorities, aligned with their love for God and, from there, for each other.

This resonates and makes holiness feel attainable.

Earlier this year, my husband and I experienced an all-inclusive dream trip along the Caribbean Sea. Our resort room faced a nearby church on a hill, and every day, we were reminded of God’s love for us and our love for each other. One night, on a star-lit evening at sunset, we were photographed at the chapel under the cross, kissing. 

I texted the photo to our children, hoping it would bring them joy. They’re older now, but perhaps it’s not too late for them to know and experience that though we aren’t perfect, our love for one another—and, by extension, for them—is real. 

We will never be as holy as Joseph, Mary, and Jesus, but having their example to guide us can help us attain the same end they strove toward and reached together.

 

 

Prayer

Dear Lord, thank you for the grace you have continued to pour into our family. Though we can never be as holy as your Son’s family with Joseph and Mary, we are grateful for the model and the remembrance that holiness comes from staying focused on you.

Call to Action

All earthly families experience brokenness of one kind or another. The next time you’re in prayer, reflect on the image of the Holy Family. Rather than seeing this holy threesome as an image that can never be achieved, let their togetherness and love for one another—and God above all—seep into your heart and be a healing agent for any wounds you’ve experienced within your family. Recall the irreplaceability of your spouse, children, and other loved ones, and rest in that, with gratitude, thanking God for the family he’s given you as a gift.

 

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