Summary: In the stress of our modern families what can we learn from the family that was Joseph, Mary and Jesus?


Bob tells his wife “I want to see our kids every other weekend and once midweek” “But Bob, we're married and live together so you have to see them every day.”

Be nice to your kids. They'll choose your nursing home.

Please go play with your brother. That's basically the reason we had him.

When I call a family meeting I turn off the house wifi and wait for them all to come running.

I wonder what my parents did to fight boredom before the internet. I asked my 17 brothers and sisters and they didn't know either.

My parents won't say which of their six kids they love the best, but they have told me I finished just out of the top five.


Funny things families. Today the Church celebrates the Holy Family. Which gives us a chance to think about families from God’s perspective.

So we have a reading about family. Actually it’s a reading with quite a lot about St Joseph. The bible doesn’t tell us a lot about St Joseph. There’s a lot about Our Lady- Mary along with St Peter and St Paul are the three most mentioned mortals in the New Testament narratives. But today as we think about the Holy Family - well the baby gets a bit part, Mary gets a mention, but finally Joseph gets a look in.

The Holy Family teaches us that blood may be thicker than water but love is thicker than blood.

The Holy Family teaches us that sacrifice is at the heart of a strong family

The Holy Family teaches us that a successful family is not child nor even parent centered, but God centered.


The Holy Family teaches us that blood may be thicker than water but love is thicker than blood.

“Milo looked up … he was becoming quite accustomed to be addressed in the oddest places at the oddest times by the oddest people, and this time he was not disappointed. Standing next to him on the step was exactly half of a child who had been divided neatly from top to bottom.

“Pardon me for staring” said Milo (after he had been staring for quite some time) “But I have never seen half a child before”

“It’s .58 to be precise” said the child from he left side of his mouth (which happened to be the only side of his mouth.)

“I beg your pardon?” said Milo

“It’s .58. It’s a little more than half”

“Have you always been like that” asked Milo impatiently, for he thought it was a needlessly fine distinction.

“My goodness no” the child assured him. “A few years back I was just .42, and, believe me, that was terribly inconvenient.”

“What is the rest of your family like” asked Milo, this time a bit more sympathetically.

“Oh we are just the average family” he said thoughtfully. “Mother, Father and and 2.58 children - and as I explained, I am the .58” [1]

I love that passage from the Phantom Tollbooth. It delightfully mocks our concept of what a normal family is.

In the media you will often hear the word “Family Values” - and sadly it can be a code word - for being prejudiced against single mothers, prejudiced against gay couples who have adopted disabled children, prejudiced against the victims of divorce. Which is a shame because “Family values” is a beautiful word.

Family values can also be a code for a church in which single people are excluded. Which is a shame because it goes totally against the Christian concept of marriage in the wedding service where we pray “May the hospitality of their home bring refreshment and joy to all around them; may their love overflow to neighbours in need and embrace those in distress.” [2]

Yet look at the Holy Family. Hardly your “normal family”. Mary is pregnant before marriage. Joseph doesn’t share a single chromosome with Jesus, not one strand of DNA. Yet here they are, presented to us as the ideal model of a family. Because while blood may be thicker than water, love is thicker than blood.

I have met both in this church and in a previous church I served in, amazing people who served as foster parents - or adoptive parents. What could be more Holy than to provide a family for someone who has none.

For the last three Christmas days I have been welcomed around the table of people who are not my relatives but are my inlaw’s inlaws. I know many of you who have hosted Christmas will have welcomed people who are not your relations, but on Christmas Day became part of your family.


2) The Holy Family teaches us that sacrifice is at the heart of a strong family

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