Many items in our everyday lives follow a formula.  The list would include everything from breakfast cereal to industrial chemicals.  But the same holds true for our spiritual lives.  Our Catholic prayers, for example, generally follow the “formula” or pattern of the “Our Father.”  We praise God and then make respectful request(s)  of Him.

So too is there a formula for living family life as given us in Holy Scripture.  Today’s Second Reading, of St. Paul to the Colossians, should rank high in our estimation.  It is a direct refute of all the bullish attacks on Christian family life in the secular culture that surrounds us.  The chief feature there is the absence of God and any reference to Him that is sadly prevalent in many families today.

The purpose of this particular letter was to bolster the faith of the community at Colossae and to correct errors reported about the Church in that city. Jewish and Hellenistic elements seem to be combined in those errors. Paganism, magic, astrology and mystery religions.

As we read the particular section of the Letter chosen for us on this special Feast of the Holy Family, we note the formula that emerges for living all our families in a truly Christian way.  The basic component is the fact that we are “God’s chosen ones.”  This means that God’s existence as well as His presence are the essentials.  Take God away and the whole formula is baseless.  Note that “bearing with one another and forgiving one another” is included.  How absent that seems to be many times these days!

Comedians make light of it, sometimes, but underneath the laughter is the sad kernel of truth that too many of us do not forgive and forget the mistakes of those people who have the same last name as ours.

We dare not push aside the Holy Family as our model because of the sublime holiness present there.  If we are, as Paul tells us, “God’s chosen ones,” we have the inborn ability to honor God’s choice by our prayer and daily effort.

The story is told of a young man who stood before a judge to be sentenced for forgery.  The judge had been a friend of the boy’s father, who was famous for his books on the law of trusts.  “Young man.” said the judge sternly, “do you remember your father, that father whom you have disgraced?”

“I remember him perfectly.” the young man answered quietly. “When I went to him for advice or companionship. He would say ‘Run away, boy, I’m busy.’  Well, my father finished his book, and here I am.”

God love you, and bring His peace to your family.