We recently had our kitchen renovated. Our project manager, Mike became quick friends with little Andrew. I learned that Mike is a strong Christian and loves people with Down syndrome. During the course of our kitchen renovation, I had mentioned to Mike about my concern of being able to keep up with Andrew and take care of him when my husband and I grow older. I realize that this might fall on the shoulders of Alexander, Abby and their future families. Mike asked me which of Andrew's two older siblings takes the most interest in Andrew now. My response, both Alexander and Abby - they play with Andrew, love him, read to him, take care of him and defend him. This is what family is all about. Let's explore the importance of another family, one that ruled the nations.
In the daily Mass readings for this week, we read a lot about the foreshadowed genealogy of Jesus. On Tuesday of the first week of Advent, we read Isaiah 11:1-10. This reading talks about a "shoot rising up from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud will blossom." Jesse is the father of King David. Jesus is called "the Son of David" in Matthew's Gospel. What Matthew is doing is establishing a royal lineage for Jesus. When we read about a "bud" blossoming from the root of Jesse, we know that the "bud" is Jesus. Isaiah goes on to explain that the "Spirit of the Lord will be upon Him." As we know, this Spirit is the Holy Spirit, one of the Persons of the Holy Trinity. Establishing Jesus' genealogy is important because it shows His royal succession. Jesse, too, has an important genealogy - that of Abraham, who was promised that his children would "be beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore." (Genesis 22:17) Because Abraham is an ancestor of Jesse and Jesse is the father of King David who is the ancestor of Jesus, we see how Jesus' lineage was established from the very first book of the Bible. The Old Testament foreshadows the New Testament and the New Testament answers the anticipations of the Old Testament.
As St. John Paul II said, "As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live." Family is the backbone of society. My husband and I are raising a child with Down syndrome in a town where we don't have any extended family. We rely greatly on our 10 year old, Alexander and our 7 year old, Abby. This has made Alexander and Abby stronger in character- a strength that will carry them through their lives. When I watch Alexander and Abby care for little Andrew, I am reminded of another family where a young mother and father were taking care of a newborn baby. In this family, the mother was about 13 and pregnant before she married her husband, who became the baby's adoptive father. Of course, I am talking about the Holy Family - Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus.
The Holy Family set the example for families to follow in future generations. From them we learn to defend and protect our family. We also learn of forgiveness and fortitude. We learn to teach and to have patience and love for our families who are knit together by God's design. The actions that we take today and the decisions that we make will teach our children how to cope with life's blessings and disappointments. We must be intentional in loving and instructing our family, just as the Holy Family showed us.
"The first blessing that God gave was for the wellbeing of the family." -St. John Vianney
"If you want world peace, go home and love your family." -St. Teresa of Calcutta
"Families must have the courage to set before young people the radical decision to follow Christ, showing them how deeply rewarding it is." -Pope Benedict XVI