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The Holy Family

by Brant Pitre January 24, 2020 0 Comments


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The second reading is from Colossians, it is from one of the letters of St. Paul.  And because it's a feast day and not ordinary time, it is thematically linked to the other readings for the day.  In this case it's focused on St. Paul's teaching for the Christian family from his letter to the Colossians 3:12-21.  This a beautiful, beautiful passage.  You can find a similar passage in Ephesians 5, that's the more famous version of Paul's teaching for families, but every year at Christmas time the Church puts this particular passage before us to give us an image of not what Old Testament family life looks like, but what Christian family life looks like in the new covenant.  So listen to these words of wisdom from St. Paul.  He says this:

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Aright, pause there for a second.  What has Paul just done? He's given us a list of all the major Christian virtues: compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness (that means gentleness), patience, forgiveness, harmony and above all love (agape).  Now why does the Church give us that?  Do you think perhaps the Church knows that living life in a family is not easy and that is easy to be unkind, impatient, prideful, lacking forgiveness, not having harmony, having discord?  Yeah, the Church knows that all of those things afflict family life, especially modern family life, where there has been such a breakdown of the family.  So it is wonderful that the Church is giving us this vision of the kind of virtues we need to cultivate if we are going to have peace and harmony in the family.  Above all forgiveness, as well as patience with one another, forbearing one another; because families are going to hurt one another.  You hurt the people that you are closest to so easily.  We need these admonitions from St. Paul to show us the kind of virtue that we have to intentionally cultivate in our family life if we are going to have happiness in our home.  Especially gratitude, there notice, it is so easy to complain all the time about the difficulties of family life.  Well what does Paul say?  “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” and do everything with thankfulness.  Do everything with thanksgiving in your heart, praising God for the many blessings that come with family life.  Now I could stop there and get off easy, but I won't because the next verses are some more challenging verses.  And I have done a full presentation on this on a CD called Wives Do What?! Ephesians 5 & St. Paul's Life-Changing Vision of the Christian Family.  You can check that out if you want an hour long discussion of the implications of this passage, but for now I want to just keep it short and sweet and highlight here that Paul brings his discussion of the Christian family to a close by giving specific exhortations to four groups: wives, husbands, children and fathers.  This is what he says in these last verses…

Brant Pitre
Brant Pitre


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