Feast of the Holy Family 2019 –   The Protection of a Parent

Source: dallasnews.com

What would you do to protect your family? Regarding that question, I recommend reading the short piece for the Feast of the Holy Family in this month’s issue of Living with Christ. It is from Patrick Gallagher who writes of his experience, as a parent, of checking on his children as they slept.

He refers to the protective instinct of parents. Gallagher uses his own experiences to speak of Saint Joseph: To protect his child [Jesus] he chose to give up everything and become a refugee in a strange land. Such is the protective instinct of parents.

I’m not a parent, but I have enough experience and knowledge of the too-great-to-count illustrations in our world of parents who have risked everything to protect their children. There is no limit to the measures they will take to keep safe their children. It could be running into a burning house or jumping into a raging stream.

It could be risking everything and taking your family on a crowded boat in order to flee from a war torn land. It could be packing up whatever you can carry and go to a new land where you may not understand the language and know absolutely no one. It may involve traveling in the back of a truck and not knowing whether you will reach your destination in safety. What would YOU do to protect your family?

Most of us have probably been horrified in the past year by the images and tales of parents and children who were separated from each other. This didn’t take place in some faraway part of the world where we can’t pronounce the country name. This did not take place in a less civilized period in human history.

We are looking at the southern border of the United States in the Twenty-First Century. The separation of children from their parents is an indescribable cruelty. It goes to the heart of what is the most sacred bond that can exist, that between parents and their children. Those families were fleeing, mistakenly thinking that they would find a haven.

Today’s Gospel involves one of Joseph’s nighttime dreams. He was warned to take the child and Mary and flee to Egypt. The Gospel does not imply a vacation among the pyramids. It is a flight from an unsafe situation. The family fled by night. Even with the death of Herod, they still couldn’t go home.

Oh, how many in the history of our world have had to flee by night! Warnings come in many ways – rumours, news accounts, increasing persecution, famine or threats. You just go! You don’t have time to make elaborate preparations.

I imagine that most of us reading this post have not personally experienced the kind of fleeing that is so often necessary. Perhaps our parents or grandparents have gone down that route. Any lack of experience we have is not a cause for complacency.

On the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, let us pray in gratitude for the safety offered by our parents. Let’s also pray for the many who have no choice but to flee.

Philip Shano, SJ has many years of rich and varied experience working with Ignatian spirituality: teaching, writing and using it in his ministry. He resides in the Jesuit community in Pickering, Ontario.

  • Pat Donovan
    Posted at 08:10h, 29 December Reply

    Excellent reminder!!!

  • Lorraine Majcen
    Posted at 11:25h, 29 December Reply

    Ah! Yes, Fr Philip. As I reflect on the feast of the Holy Family, I am reminded of my family’s journey as immigrants to Canada, almost 50 years ago. It brings to mind my Mother, who with her deep faith and courage, ensured we made it safely to our adopted land. She was both Father and Mother to us and her protective instinct as a hen to her chicks were admirable and praiseworthy. I cannot begin to imagine the pain and suffering that the refugees south of the border have had to endure so far. God be with them!

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