Post-modern Family Stories
Christmas and Feast of the Holy Family

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

Thanks be to God, she was able to get a seat on the dawn flight. She had worked for two years in the big city. She has left her daughter to the care of grandparents. This Christmas she was granted a longer vacation. With her luggage is a big floppy doll. A week with her two-year old daughter and off she goes to work again. She is a single parent.

In a Middle Eastern country, a couple is happy to meet their daughter at the airport. Now the family is complete. The grandmother brought the daughter from the Phiippines, after a tedious process of obtaining their passports and visas. She is now three years old. She grew up with her grandmother. She knew her parents through telephone calls and images in the internet. This year they are able to celebrate Christmas together as family.

In other places, the Christmas season is celebrated in makeshift tents of evacuation centers. They still could not return home after the fierce battles in their abandoned villages between the military and the rebel forces. They long for peace on earth. It is a simple Christmas wish. If only they can return home and live normal lives again.

These and other stories are no longer rare today. People struggle to love, live, and cope with daily living in situations that are not ideal.

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. The storhy of the Holy Family has some echoes in our current family situations. The Blessed Virgin Mary was confronted with the possibility of being a single parent, until Joseph gave his yes to God's plan for him. The Holy Family had to live in a foreign land, away from the minions of the jealous and angry Herod. They were living in a period of violence and chaos as the Jewish rebels resisted their Roman conquerors.

Action starter: Spend time with your family.

Today the Filipino family faces situations of poverty, homelessness, separations, and violence. The story of the Holy Family addresses the stories of families today. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were not exempt from the difficulties and trials of life. When God decided to send His only Son to the world, Jesus entered the specific human conditions of His time. He became a member not just of the family of humankind but also a speciific family, with parents and grandparents and a long line of ancestors.

Jesus' membership in a human family has a salvific message. God's plan of salvation is worked out within the locus of community living. The first community where we experience being loved, accepted and cared for are our families. Normally, we experience God's love first with our parents, grandparents, and brothers, and sisters as intermediaries.

Families are facing today the challenges of post-modern living. The global economy is such that members of families are divided. Mothers and fathers work in foreign countries.. Oftentimes the male figures are missing. Some social scientists call this a “fatherless” generation. More and more, grandparents are taking over the role of absent parents. This situation of dysfunctional families, eventually has some effect of the emotional growth of children.

How do we impart the values of lasting commitment, love, and caring? The subliminal message that young people seem to be getting is that money and things can substitute for presence and love.

The feast of the Holy Family is an affirmation of the importance of a loving community. It is an affirmation of the priority of people over things. From all historical evidences, one thing is sure about the Holy Family. They were poor materially. Why God chose to b e born in a poor family is definigtely not by chance. God's plan to save is not dependent on material wealth. It depends on people's willingness to say “Yes” to God.