A young mother shook her head, “Honestly, between virtual learning, isolation, and social distancing, our family is just one big hot mess.” I replied, “Yes, but your family is a holy hot mess, and the ‘holy’ makes all the difference.” Each family experiences its own unique struggles, but with Jesus at the center, the family is holy, if even a holy hot mess.
Today’s Gospel, chosen for the Feast of the Holy Family, alerts one to all the joys and sorrows within family life. We can imagine Joseph and Mary’s joy at presenting this beautiful newborn Son at the temple, only to hear Simeon’s crushing words of future sorrow: “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted—and you yourself a sword shall pierce—so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” Joys and sorrows, tears and laughter, hopes and challenges, all mingled and offered in prayer.
The only difference between a hot mess and a holy hot mess is whether the family will offer its own particular joys and sorrows to Jesus. With faith, families can trust Jesus will bring good out of each struggle and heartache. As the Bishops write in Follow the Way of Love: “But remember, a family is holy not because it is perfect but because God’s grace is at work in it, helping it to set out anew every day on the way of love.” Remember, your family may be a hot mess (and frankly, what family isn’t a hot mess?) but with God’s grace, through God’s love working in the home, your family is a “holy” hot mess, and that makes ALL the difference.
As I listened to this woman’s exasperation at her family’s hot mess, I assured her of the absolute beauty of her family because God’s love clearly reigns in their home—they really do love one another. Through all of their challenges, they strive to put on “heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another ... and love, that is, the bond of perfection.”
The Holy Family was a real-life family, flesh and blood, with elbows rubbing up against one another, but theirs was “Holy” because they loved purely and tenderly through all their joys and sorrows, trusting the Father to bring about the world's Salvation as predicted by Simeon. At the Eucharist, we offer our lives and receive His Body and Blood to transform our hot messes into holy families. Now, that’s good news!
How is your family holy?
What sorrows and joys will you offer to God?
Naming Grace in the Domestic Church reflects on Scripture through the lens of a parent/grandparent. To contact Mary about preaching or speaking to your community: www.mary pedersen.com
The blog on this page presents reflections on the Sunday readings through the lens of a parent/grandparent, aiding leaders of the domestic church in their vital task as “first heralds” or “first preachers” of the Good News in the home.