Decemember 26, 2021 – Feast of the Holy Family
In our Wednesday novena to Our Mother of Perpetual Help, one intention we pray is that we may learn to adapt to our growing children. Parenthood, as we all know, is not only about raising children but also adjusting to our growing children. Thus, to parent a child is more than just caring for the growth of the children; it is also learning in the process, as children grow in maturity and age.
Being Redemptorist missionary involved in parish, retreat, missions, and migrant ministry for many years, I became aware of the difficulties of parenthood. Difficult it is to adapt with life-changes, how much more adapting to growing children. In confessions and counseling sessions with faithful people, I become conscious of the hurts & pains suffered by both parents and children in their difficulties with parenthood. Parents hurt by their children’s disobedience, i.e., going against their will; children blaming their parents for their misfortunes in life. Sipmply because of our limitations in parenthood. Parenthood indeed is not an easy task, & rightly so that we pray to OMPH that we may learn from our experiences of adapting to the growth of our growing children.
Today, we honor the Holy Family, the family who parent the child Jesus. Our gospel tells us that like any other family, the Holy Family also experienced the difficulties of parenthood. As parent, Joseph and Mary followed the proper traditions of raising the child Jesus. They did their best. But as we all know, they also experience how Jesus became disobedient to them, going against their will.
Surely parents here could resonate with the hurts, pains, and anxieties they experience when children start to grow up and be on their own. Like my mother would even say, when we, her children started to have our live our own, “Kung puede palang ibalik sa tiyan.” (If I could only bring you back in my womb…) It is the same way with the experience of a hen that raises ducks as her chicks. When the duck-chicks, which by nature a swimmer, start to swim and float on a fond, the mother hen – because she cannot swim would be extremely worried and anxious that her chicks-ducks might get drowned. This is also what and how Joseph and Mary experienced parenting Jesus. When the child Jesus began to grow up in age & maturity, his parents also experienced the difficulties of parenthood.
However, the Holy Family’s experience might teach us more about parenting and parenthood, especially in terms of adapting to our growing children.
First, Parenthood is a whole family matter – not only of parents but also of children. To parent a family is not only about the husband-and-wife tandem in raising their children but it is more on the dynamic teamwork between parents and children. If it was difficult for Mary and Joseph to raise and adjust with Jesus, it was also difficult for Jesus to grow up in his own family. In as much as being parent is difficult, we also know that growing up maturely (to be on our own) is difficult. If Jesus only obey his parents’ will, I wonder would we able to benefit from and share with the salvation God has given us through Jesus, who did not remain a child of Mary and Joseph but become our Christ, our Savior? As the parent adjust, children also adjust.
Second, Parenthood is also about trusting in God’s way of parenting us – of raising and forming us His children. Inasmuch as we are tasked to parent our little ones – raising and adapting to their growth, we must never forget that ultimately God is our Father, our ultimate parent; and we are all His children. If we do want the best for our children, God also knows, wants, and does what is best for each one of us. God knows what was best for us when we were children, surely, he knows what is best for us when we become mature adult parent to His little ones. If we do want our children to obey us, we also are to obey God our father who knows best & better than what we want. So, trust and have faith in God’s will, in God’s way of parenting us.
Christmas challenges us Christian to be responsible parents of Jesus in our lives today. Parenting our growing children is also our way of being responsible to the child and adult Jesus – God’s word made flesh, into our very lives now, according to God’s will & not our own ways.
As we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family, we pray that the Holy Family will continue to inspire all Christian families and communities in parenting our growing children for God’s glory, not ours. Amen.