Today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. This feast recognises the significance of family life and reminds us of the importance of family relationships. It is our family that forms and shapes us as we grow through childhood, helping us to acquire the skills and abilities that we need to live a happy and fulfilled adult life.

 Christmas, for many people, is a family time. We meet up with and celebrate with family and close friends during the Christmas season. We often make a special effort at Christmas time to be in touch with those family members whom we may have very little contact with throughout the rest of the year.

 The principal characteristic of a good family life is love. There is a deep love within the family circle for the people that make up the family. Love binds them together and helps them to live together as a family unit. The members of the family are committed to one another and are there for one another to celebrate both the joys and sorrows of life. It is a love that is undoubtedly challenged from time to time and may often find its expression in patience, tolerance and forgiveness when hurt or harm caused by one member strain the relationships within the family.

 God our Father, we ask you to bless our families as we are about to begin a new year. Fill us with your love. Help us to be patient, kind, gentle and generous. Help us to live your forgiveness and peace. Watch over us and keep us always in your care. Amen.

Fr. Kieran Coghlan