|The Holy Family by Esteban Murillo|
Father said most of us work on eliminating sin in our lives which is good, but too often we focus so much on sin that we forget about virtue. And if we do, we are like the man in the parable whose house is swept clean, but then the devil returns with seven more who are worse than himself.
So we need to emphasize virtue which comes from a Latin word that means "power" and "habit." To grow in the habit of virtue gives us the power to cooperate with God's grace to drive out sin. Which virtues do we need both personally and in our families? Those St. Paul describes in his letter to the Colossians (chapter 3). He tells us to "put on...heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another." Just think what a family would look like if we put on all those virtues and treated each other accordingly.
Let's face it...all the families I know live in their own personal soap operas. I remember being shocked to find that the minister across the street lost a grandson to suicide. My neighbor on the corner, a fervent Lutheran, had a daughter who wouldn't speak to him. The lady next door was bipolar and, after her husband left her, moved to California where she later committed suicide. The couple on the other side of us also divorced and I spent one Christmas Eve commiserating with the poor lonely wife whose children were with Dad for the holiday. A large Catholic family we knew had a daughter come out as a lesbian and were struggling with whether to let her have contact with her younger siblings. My own extended family is filled with divisions over religion, politics, and personalities.
We absolutely need the Feast of the Holy Family to remind us to persevere, to struggle to develop the virtues necessary to maintain some semblance of peace, and to remember that love is more than a feeling. When we FEEL angry or disgusted with the actions of family members (or our own) we can still love them (and ourselves). Love is a lot more than an emotion (a feeling); it is an action word, a verb. To love means to work for the good of the other, to pray and to sacrifice for them, to endure in expectation of their final reconciliation, and, finally, to hope for our own and others' salvation,
In 2017 I want to work on virtue-power. The ones I probably need the most are kindness and forgiveness. May God through the intercession of my guardian angel and patron saints (especially the Blessed Mother) pour on me the grace necessary to grow in those virtues and the others of which I'm most in need.
Jesus, Our Savior, have mercy on us.
Our Lady, Mediatrix of All Graces, pray for us.