The family unit is one of the greatest gifts that God has given to us. We all need family, even though we may sometimes struggle to admit it.
We are all born to a mother, a father and God – it is our biology, we need an egg cell and a sperm cell to create the zygote, but we also need God to implant our soul. Not all of us are born knowing our mother or father, or having the perfect mother or father, but the one constant is that we are all born to the same God. So, even though we may struggle with our families, one great starting point is to look towards is God’s family, and build our family from their example.
Before Jesus, we didn’t know God’s family. We currently are living in a time of great grace and we know Jesus is His Son, Mary is Jesus’ mother and Joseph is His adoptive father. We are only given a glimpse into the family unit, but we can learn that Mary was blessed and accepted God’s plan for her life. She was quiet and pondered all of the things that happened during her life. She also wasn’t only Jesus’ mother, but also His disciple who was there at the beginning of His ministry and followed Him all the way to the foot of the cross. She is an awesome example of a mother, and even though we may struggle as mothers, we can turn to Mary as an example of what a mother should be and pray for her intercession. Also, if our own mothers have abandoned or abused us, we can look to her and ask her to be our mother, ask her to bring a motherly figure into our lives, and guide us along our path that God has called us on as she did with Jesus.
Joseph was never quoted in the Bible, but we are still able to learn so much from him and his example. He was married to Mary, but not living with her yet when she was found to be pregnant. He could have had her stoned for adultery, but instead chose to divorce her quietly. He loved Mary and even though he was very hurt by what he thought was a betrayal, he didn’t want her or her baby harmed. When others hurt us, we may need to distance ourselves from them, but we do not need to cause an uproar against them. While praying over it, he is also visited by Gabriel and when he woke, he obeyed. He was faithful in all that he did, and when he was visited two other times, he again obeyed immediately. Instead of questioning our role as head of household, pray about what we should do and listen to the instruction that is given to us. He also is a carpenter, hard worker and even though he knew Jesus was miraculously conceived, he guided his son in the trade and treated him like he was his biological son. We are all called to work because of sin at the beginning of time. When we don’t work, we become lazy and feel like everything should be given or done for us, rather than doing for ourselves. Work hard and do what is good, and we will be successful in God’s way (it may not be successful measured by the world, Joseph was not a world-famous carpenter for his carpentry). Finally, just because we may not be connected to someone biologically, does not mean that we do not treat them like any loving, caring parent would. We are to love everyone like they are our own – even our enemies! Be sure to treat everyone with love and gentleness like Joseph did with Mary and Jesus.
Jesus’ death upon the cross welcomed us back into the family of God. Therefore, now Jesus is our Brother, Mary is our mother and God is our Father. We may not have the perfect earthy family, but we can look to our Heavenly Family and ask to be adopted into this family to help us in our earthly troubles.
As we grow up and marry, our families will never be as perfect as Jesus’ family, but they show us how a family unit should be and an example that we can work and try to imitate. If our mother is not as loving as Mary, ask Mary to show us a mother’s love. If our father is loud and abusive, ask Joseph to give us a gentle spirit so we don’t repeat the mistakes. If we are a mother or father, ask Mary and Joseph to guide us in our parenting skills. Use their example to help us raise our kids to be faith filled.
Our goal as parents is not to keep our kids, but to give them back to God. The only way we can do this is by practicing our faith and showing them love the way the Father loves us. We must also discipline our children in the faith. We are told by the secular that discipline is wrong and we should give all children an award for just trying (participation award), but this is not how life is. We must be disciplined in order to follow the 10 Commandments or listen to God’s Word. Our bosses don’t give us raises for just showing up to work, but we must work hard and honestly in order to be successful in both our work and family lives.
Celebrate family! Celebrate natural marriage, man and woman who procreate, with God, and create children. Be the father that Joseph shows us we can be. Be the mother that loves and supports their child though the good and the bad. Be the child who loves and takes care of their parents, especially when they are older and needs us most. Do not carry bitterness of a bad childhood into adulthood, and don’t give that bad example back to our children or our parents. Be the godly example and the person who shows love to all of their brothers and sisters because they are also brothers and sisters in Christ.
If we no longer have parents or grow up in foster care, or don’t have parents who care for us, turn to our Heavenly family and they will provide us all that we need.
Catholic Upgrade: We all may not have the perfect family, but if we look to and follow the example of our Heavenly Family, we can be more Christ-like.