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Feast reminds us to ‘make the first move’

By Bishop Terry R. LaValley

December 25, 2019

Neatly nestled in the middle of the Christmas Season is the beautiful Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. As I mentioned previously, in response to a question I asked him, the Holy Father considers the current condition of the family as the most urgent challenge that he faces in his Petrine Ministry. In light of Pope Francis’ response, I thought it timely to review a challenge for every family that has been shared previously.

Every Christmas Season we are reminded that God was born into the very ordinariness of a stable among common folk. For most of us, there are no people who seem so ordinary as the members of our families. It is often said that “Familiarity breeds contempt.” The family setting can easily become the location where we take one another for granted.

Family life is full of opportunities to show God’s goodness in doing little things for those around us. As we set out on this New Year, we might develop the simple (but very difficult) habit of “making the first move.” Making the first move means not waiting for others to do the right thing but taking the initiative ourselves. In a family quarrel, for instance, the odds are that both parties share some of the blame. I shouldn’t wait for the other person to apologize first, even if I think that person is more responsible than me for the conflict. Instead, I need to make the first move.

Or when I notice that a sibling, a child, a parent or other family member is having a bad day, or a bad week, I shouldn’t wait for them to come to me for support. I need to make the first move. If I know that something I do bothers someone else in the house, I shouldn’t wait for them to complain before I stop doing it. I should make the first move. Sometimes it’s those little things that can become big rifts and fracture a family.

This New Year, let us be especially attentive to one of the greatest stumbling blocks to spiritual growth in our families: our inability to forgive. The family is a great training ground of mutual forgiveness. Without forgiving oneself and without forgiving one another love does not remain, it simply cannot last. Every first move of forgiveness repairs the cracks of the home and patches its walls.

We celebrate Jesus making the first move by coming into the world on Christmas morning. The Christian Family album begins and ends with Jesus Christ. In our relationships with other family members, like the Head of our Christian family, we need to take the initiative in healing hurts.

The Feast of the Holy Family provides you and me with the graced opportunity to humbly and courageously make the first move. Jesus did, so should we! Our families will thank us for it. Have a very Happy and Blessed New Year!

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