During a post-Christmas family reunion in New York City, my parents, sister, and I attended a Mass at Church of Our Saviour, recommended to us by friends who had recently returned to their Roman Catholic roots.
Despite our unfamiliarity with Roman Catholic services, we managed to find the page for that day in the book provided, "Celebrating the Eucharist." Sunday, Dec. 27 was the Feast of the Holy Family: Joseph, Mary, and Jesus.
Before a listing of the readings for the day was a paragraph to ponder, and I found it breathtaking:
"The familiarity of family life can sometimes blind us to see the goodness in each other. This feast reminds us to open our eyes and be 'astonished' at the goodness of each other rather than anxious about our own concerns. Families grow in strength when each person in the family---from parents to the smallest child to anyone extended the hospitality of the family---is treated as a member of God's family and therefore holy."
As one already prone to anxiety, and with one family member in particular causing me serious worry, I'd recently been feeling astonished, but not by anyone's goodness. Quite the contrary.
I'm not one for New Year's resolutions, but inspired by that paragraph, I have been trying to think of the goodness in others. And I am astonished! I feel grateful. And that is all good.
The sermon that day was also inspiring, focusing, as you can imagine, on the importance of the family.
Of all the problems in the world---real or perceived---none is more pressing than the breakdown of the family. As the babies and children found languishing in orphanages in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall made clear to anyone who looked into their empty eyes, human beings cannot thrive without love. And that is what families provide. How astonishing.