Father Michael Barrow

From the parish of St Francis of Assisi

The Holy Family: A Reflection By Fr. Michael Barrow, SJ

The Holy Family: A Reflection By Fr. Michael Barrow, SJ

The trouble with pictures of the Holy Family is that they always look so holy. Even when they had the terrible experience of rushing off to Egypt as refugees, most illustrations give the impression that they're going off on holiday with Mary sitting side-saddle, sedately holding the baby.

This first Sunday after Christmas, is celebrated as the feast of the Holy Family, Jesus, Mary and Joseph. The prayer at Mass is that our family should be like the Holy Family and when you hear that, you may feel that with all the squabbling that goes on in our house we could never be like that. I think this may be due to the way the Holy Family at Nazareth is portrayed: as if everything was calm and neat and quiet and clean.A more realistic image of what it must have been like was when I got some nine-year-olds to act as the Holy Family. Joseph came in tired from work looking for something to eat and Mary said, "I haven't managed to get the dinner yet, this baby is driving me mad. I don't know what's wrong with him, he's probably teething or something." And Joseph picks up the baby and makes gooey noises at him.

In the family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, there was a strong, powerful love of each other, so they must have been brought up in loving families themselves. But being a loving family doesn't mean to say that all is calm and sweet. We need to accept the worry and frustrations that Mary and Joseph suffered when they first had the child and even later on when he was growing up.

Today, as we emerge from the celebrations of Christmas, still reflecting on the wonder of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, let us ask God's blessing on our own families, thanking the Lord for such a wonderful gift.

Fr. Michael Barrow, SJ

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