Family Matters

If you consider the first believers of Christ, they were not strangers, but members of His family. John the Baptist was His cousin, James (also called Iakovos whose Feast is today) was Joseph’s son, and many other relatives surrounded Him in the early days. As the Church developed throughout the centuries, a similar trend continued. There are many cases of what I would call holy families made up of parent-saints and sibling-saints. James, the Apostle and Brother of Our Lord was just one of them.

One of my favorite holy families is the family of Saint Basil the Great. His family includes:

  • St Basil the Elder and St Emilia were his grandparents
  • Saint Makrina the Elder was his mother, his father was martyred
  • St Gregory of Nyssa, St Peter of Sebaste, and Naucratios the hermit, were his brothers
  • St Makrina the younger and St Theosebia the Deaconess were his sisters

Through this holy family, and others like it, the Church has been blessed with wisdom and faith for twenty centuries. In today’s Church we find similar patterns, especially among the clergy families in which many families have long lines of clergy and monastics among their generations. It seems like, when it comes to faith and the Church, family matters.

Our family gives us strength and comfort when we encounter struggles and provides much needed correction when our actions are not consistent with our beliefs. How often do we hear, “You go, you’re family; they will listen to you?” This is why it gives my such pain when I see family feuds, and I’m not talking about television.

I’ve known too many families that allow disagreements to separate them for years, refusing to speak to each other, some even refusing to attend family funerals to avoid seeing other members of the family. What could possibly be worth such feuds? Money and fame? Is ego to blame? Did our family not give us enough credit, or refuse to ‘take our side’ in a debate? Such issues are trivial, but can separate us from God.

We may not realize it, but when our heart fills with such anger and hate toward anyone, but especially toward our loved ones, that hate can be our condemnation. Remember the older brother in the Parable of the Prodigal Son! It was the older brother, the one who never broke any rules of his father’s, that refused to enter the banquet because he was so angry at his brother. It was the older brother in hell, not the Prodigal Son, who had repented and returned home.

Don’t allow another day to end before you reach out to those with whom you are feuding. We may not have tomorrow. If one of us dies tonight, not only will we not be able to make peace, our anger may just turn into eternal regret. Neither anger nor regret leads us to heaven. Make peace now, because family matters.


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