A lifetime ago when I was in college, I seemed to remember that we were taught, in sociology class, that the basic unit of society was the family - a woman and a man, united in marriage and giving life to their child or children in order to provide for the continuation of humanity and of their legacy. I am not sure what the basic unit of society is today, but I would venture to say it is the individual, living their life in such a way that what they want is their goal.
Even in the old definition of family, both within and outside of our Judeo-Christian traditions, there were variations on the theme, but those who lived selflessly and lovingly found the strength and grace to make it happen. There were very few June and Ward Cleavers or Ozzie and Harriets or Lucy and Dezis in real life, but there were men and women who shared love and commitment one to the other and who shared their love in a creative, life giving way that provided for their families and for society at large the foundation of a future. Even in the Holy Family we do not find the "perfect", ideal family - we have a very young girl named Mary conceiving and giving birth to a child through the power of the Holy Spirit, and not with her husband, Joseph. We have Joseph accepting with joy the role of foster parent to Mary's son. We have hardship and trauma in the circumstances of his birth, with a threat to his life and a sojourn as refugees to a foreign land before settling down to a quiet and normal life in Nazareth.
But we also had deep faith - in God and in his plan for them ... in each other, rooted in love and mutual respect ... and in the grace to accept what came their way with confident assurance. They knew who they were ... they knew their roots ... the knew their blessings and challenges, and they knew that all of these things found meaning and purpose in their relationship with God.
Today our families may be nuclear or multi-faceted, strong or challenged, service oriented or self centered, faith filled or secular.
But where ever we find ourselves, we are embraced by the love of God and called to holiness within his family, the Church. The perfect family - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - invites us to share in their life and to use, on our journey to holiness, the model of the Holy Family of Joseph, Mary and her son, Jesus.