“John and Marsha” was the title of one of the longest-running and most popular sitcoms in the Philippines in the 70s and 80s. If featured a couple, John and Marsha, living an ideal and near-perfect life of love, unity, and fun in the midst of the challenges of daily life. People loved the show because it portrayed everybody’s dream of a truly happy family.

Today, every family wants to project the idea of bliss, closeness and sophistication. I read a caption that said: “In Facebook, every family is a perfect family.” But of course, we know, this is not true. The lovey-dovey couple on FB soon separates. The genial kids actually live in competition, jealousy and spite. Every “perfect” family on social media is in reality, a family that struggles with break-up, rivalry, anger, alienation, suffering, and fear. The FB family is a “John and Marsha” family.

Today we celebrate the Solemn Feast of the Holy Family. It is providential that this feast is not about the Perfect Family, even if Jesus was in the midst of Joseph and Mary. The gospels show us that Jesus’ own family was not the paragon of peace, bliss, and blessings. Joseph had his doubts. Mary had her fears. Jesus was rejected by his society at birth, pursued by Herod soon after, and had to go to Egypt as a refugee. The life in Nazareth was oblivious to fame, glory and power. It was the life of silence, of ordinariness, of simplicity.

I think this feast is a great consolation for all families. It is alright not to be the perfect family, the famous family, the ideal family, the progressive family, the happy family. A family is not defined only by the blessings and successes it experiences. People become family when they strive day by day to remain true to each other, faithful to each other, in spite of the challenges that come their way.

Jesus’s earthly family is called “Holy” family and that is what all families, whatever their present situation may be, called to become. In our pains and struggles, in our joys and triumphs, in our lacks and deprivation, in our bounty and prosperity, in our ups and downs, we all must pray and work hard to be holy families. Holy, not in the sense of having saints as members but holy because we keep close to God, open to him, and obedient to him.

When was the last time you prayed for your family? Today let us pray for the needs of our family. Most of all, let us pray that our family become holy.