Dec 30 – Feast of the Holy Family
We celebrate the Holy Family of Nazareth which is the model for all who fear the Lord and walk in his ways.
- the Sunday Missal
Mat 2:13-15, 19-2
Whoever respects his father is atoning for his sins, he who honours his mother is like someone amassing a fortune.
My father left my family when I was in early primary school. The remaining members of my family, mum and my younger brother, bounced from place to place. Sometimes in my grandparents flat, to my aunt’s matrimonial home, and even renting a room in a 3-room flat. Life wasn’t easy and Mum had to struggle working in all sorts of jobs, just to keep my brother and I in school and to provide food on the table.
One of the consequences of my father leaving was that we had to leave all we had and literally lived out of a suitcase. Another consequence was that my mother told me to trust no one and be more independent. Thus from that young age, I kept to myself a lot, not trusting in relationships or making new friends. I believed I took it one step further and also did not form any close relationships between my mother or my brother. So, whenever I watched those TV sitcoms with tight family members, or even with my classmates’ stories of how their families are so close, I was always filled with a sense of regret or even sadness, as it was something I never had or experienced.
I liken the period of time when we were moving from place to place, until Mum bought her flat in 1983, to being in a sort of ‘Egypt’. We escaped to ‘Egypt’ under cover of night and remained hidden, until finally God showed us that it was time to come out of ‘Egypt’ into the promised land of Toa Payoh.
Although we were physically out of ‘Egypt’, I still remained there in my mind. I still found it hard to open myself to my friends, I still kept my feelings to myself. So much so, that in JC, a friend of mine told me, “Calvin, I don’t really know what you are really thinking or feeling…” I remained in ‘Egypt’ until one day, in polytechnic, something told me that it was time to open up; that I didn’t need to keep all those feelings to myself. So what if others knew about your family’s history, does it make you any less of a person?
Once I decided to open up to people, my life changed. It was as if a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. But the one thing I still had in my heart was unforgiveness for my father. It was perhaps ten years later, during Lent, that in a particular prayer time or para-liturgy, I again had the feeling that I should forgive my father. It was really strong and the hymn at that time was:
“Things in the past, things yet unseen
Wishes and dreams that are yet to come through.
All of my hopes, all of my plans,
My heart and my hands are lifted to you.
Lord, I offer my life to you
Everything I’ve been through
Use it for your glory”
taken from ‘I Offer My Life’ – Don Moen
I started tearing once I heard those words and for that particular Lent, I resolved to forgive my father — for abandoning our family, for making my mum go through suffering. But I knew that healing will only come if I let go of the bitterness, the anger and that if I forgive from the heart. And so, with God’s graces, I forgave my father and knew that it would not be healthy if I were to keep that bitterness in my heart.
Although my early life was trying, I have always known that God has been with me every step of the way. And that where I am today, the person that I am, has been moulded by those experiences and that God has always looked after my family when the chips were down.
Although my family is not perfect and life was tough during my early years, I give thanks to God for Mum and my brother. Without them and everything that we have gone through, I would not be the person I am today. It is through God and His graces that we made it out of ‘Egypt’, both literally and figuratively.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Calvin Wee)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, you are the Lord of our life. All we have is yours. Grant that we may never ever grow so proud, that we forget all the blessings that you have bestowed upon us. Grant us your grace to always keep you in the centre of all we do. Because without You, we will still be lost, in darkness and walking in circles, trying to escape the ‘Egypt’ in our lives. Amen.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Almighty Father, for the Holy Family, as they showed that by trusting in You, there is nothing that we cannot do or escape from. Mama Mary, Blessed St Joseph, pray for us and our families, that we may hear the voice of our Heavenly Father as he leads and guides us out of the ‘Egypt’s in our lives. Amen.
Calvin. Thank you for sharing your story. My heart breaks for the little boy – and all who have carried the cross that was left for you. I am grateful for the man of God you are!