The picture of Mary, Joseph and Jesus together in the stable turns our thoughts to our own family life. There is a fine reading about family life in the Book of Sirach. It lists five benefits that come to those who are good family members. They atone for their sins. When they pray they are heard. They store up riches in heaven. They will be given long lives. And, in turn, they will be gladdened in their old age.
There is a story about three generations of a Chinese family. (To me it backs up the Bible' promise that in our old age we will be treated in the same way we treated the elderly when we were young.) The grandfather in the story had lost the ability to enjoy life or to be useful, so his son put him into a wheelbarrow, and wheeled him to the top of a long bridge over the Yangtze River. His son came along to help heave grandfather over the railing. When the heave-ho time came the son said, “Don’t throw the wheelbarrow over.” “Why. Son?” the father asked; and the boy said, “I’ll need it to wheel you up here someday.”
That reading from the Book of Sirach promises rewards that are particularly meant for young people. But what family life can old people have? Well, it is there for them if they can get out of their selves. People are paying three hundred dollars for good seats at Monday’s Gator Bowl. That doesn’t allow them to suit up and to catch passes. It just let’s them share in the feats of the young fellows on the field.
Once when someone standing nearby told Jesus that members of his family were waiting to see him, Jesus told them that his family included all men and women, old and young, who attempt to live according to God’s law. I say that living in accord to God’s law is a small price to pay if it lets me be counted among Our Lord’s close family.
Look around you. All you can see are God’s children. He loves this one, that one, and that one too. He appreciates it no end when you become a brother or sister to any lonely ones who are his children.
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