The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, December 27
May the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph Become a Holy Example and Model for Each of Us to Follow, As We Love, Honor, Guide and Protect Those Whom We Hold Dear to Our Own Hearts.
From our Responsorial Psalm today, we hear the words, “Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in his ways! For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork; blessed shall you be, and favored.”
And how is it that we are to fear the Lord and walk in His ways? Opening our hearts and embracing all that God asks of us, emptying from ourselves all that prevents us from living a holy life, and imitating the lives of those whom God has set as a holy example for us to follow – this is how we are to walk in His ways and be blessed.
For most people, unless one is called by God to live a celibate life (a chaste, single life), getting married and having a family is what many men and women dream about – becoming a mother or a father, raising children – dreams which fill many with joy, a longing and an expectation of what many feel life for them should be all about.
And such was the case with Abraham, as we read in today’s First Reading. He was a man longing, with a hopeful expectation, for the fulfillment of the promises of which God made to him and his wife, Sarah.
But once the dream becomes a reality, we then begin to realize that raising a family is hard work. It is a journey which can be filled with many wonderful highs, along with the experience of anxieties and some very disconcerting or disquieting lows.
Today, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family – Jesus, Mary and Joseph. And their family was no exception to the concerns which every mother and father have for their children in our world, both then and today.
As a father, grandfather and great-grandfather myself, I know that we only want what is best for those whom we love. We want to know and feel assured that our children and grandchildren are safe and healthy.
We try our best to care for them with tender love from the moment they are born. We nurture them through their childhood years. We worry about them as teenagers. And as they enter the years of young adulthood, we pray that they will make choices in their lives which will best enable them to make moral and just decisions, not only for themselves but also for their loved ones.
As God-fearing parents and grandparents, we pray that the example we set for them will be a lasting example, influencing them in making responsible and honorable decisions throughout their lives.
Mary and Joseph were no different in their love for Jesus. Even two thousand years ago, their concerns as parents were very much like our own. When Jesus was conceived within Mary’s womb through the power of the Holy Spirit, and before Joseph understood that the Child she was carrying was God’s Son, Scripture tells us that it was his intention not to expose her to shame but rather quietly divorce her.
One can only imagine the emotional pain and anxiety he must have been feeling, until God sent an angel to set his mind at ease. And then, he received her into his home and cared for her with a selfless love which a husband is to have for his wife. And out of love for God and obedience to the Law of Moses, they followed all the prescriptions set forth observing the rules of purification.
But even families, who follow God’s will for themselves in their lives, may not always have an easy life. And the Holy Family was no different in this regard. For we read in the Gospel of Matthew how King Herod was determined to kill the Christ Child. And to escape Herod’s massacre of the innocent children in Bethlehem, Joseph had to take Mary and Jesus and flee during the night to Egypt, where they remained until it was safe to return, and eventually set up home in Nazareth.
The beauty of the Gospel stories surrounding the birth and early years of our Lord’s life are that they have something to say to people of all ages – how easy it is for any family to have moments of disappointment, fear or anxiety.
And we should not be surprised! A family is either something which grows and develops over the years, or it becomes a family which weakens and disintegrates. We know only too well that our society, and the culture in which we live, is not always supportive of family life. Sadly, there appears to be a lot more broken or at least fractured families in our world today!
Then, too, families are often separated by geography as the children grow older, and spatial distance can often result in emotional distance, unless efforts are made to bridge the gap.
All the more reason to celebrate this Feast today – not to dwell on those times which may give us pain, but as a call for us to reflect on what it truly means to be family, in light of the mystery of the Incarnation of God’s Son – cared for, loved and nurtured, raised by Mary and Joseph in some very difficult times!
And it is good for us to reflect on the fact that the Eternal Word made flesh, God becoming the Son of Man, came unto His own creation through a family, a human family. The experiences of the human family are meant to emulate the love relationship which exists between the three Divine Persons of the Blessed Trinity. The relationship between a husband and a wife is to emulate the love relationship which Christ as the Heavenly Bridegroom has for His Bride, the Church.
And the experiences which the Holy Family itself undergoes teach us of the Eternal Father’s relationship to each and every one of us, His children. His relationship is one of a caring and loving Father, who will never abandon us, who will never desert us in times of great sorrow or anxiety.
He watches over us, protects us, guides us in each and every step of our journey here on this side of the eternal – not unlike Mary’s and Joseph’s relationship with Jesus, not unlike the relationship we are called to have with our own children, for it is selfless love which is that emotional bond which holds together the family structure. And without love, the family bond can only weaken and deteriorate over time.
For those of us who are old enough, as you and I reflect back upon our own childhood, I am sure that we can remember times that were filled with joy, and also those moments filled with sadness. Generally, it is when the bond of love is at its strongest that we have our fondest and happiest memories.
Christmas is a time that reminds us that the potential for being a holy family, emulating the lives of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, is truly there for all of us. As we are reminded in Paul’s Letter to the Colossians, for parents, holiness has to do with handing on the means of holiness by example and instruction, together with an ongoing devotion to loving each other with a selfless and respectful love.
The Feast of the Holy Family today invites each of us to examine how we are doing as a family – As a husband or wife, do we honor, love and respect our spouse with a selfless giving of oneself for the other? As Parents, are we loving and guiding our children by holy word and example? As children, are we loving, honoring and respecting our parents? And in a world and a culture which encourages us to ignore, if not renounce, our relationship to our Spiritual Father in Heaven, are we responding as grace-filled children of God to all that He asks from each and every one of us?
Like Jesus, we not only have a human family, but we also have a Heavenly Family – the Blessed Trinity – a God who guides us, a God who protects us, a God who loves each of us beyond all manner of human description, and who desires that we embrace His will for us in our every thought, word and deed.
May God’s Infinite Love for you and me guide us in the love we hold for those dearest to our minds and hearts in the here and now. And may the Holy Family, Jesus, Mary and Joseph, become a holy example and model for each of us to follow – as we love, honor, guide and protect those whom we hold dear to our own hearts.
May God bless you, God love you, and may God always keep you, especially during this Most Holy Christmas season! †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “Blessed are all who fear the LORD and who walk in his ways. What your hands provide you will enjoy; you will be blessed and prosper.” (Psalm 128:1-2)
- “Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD, your God, has commanded you, that you may have a long life and that you may prosper in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” (Deuteronomy 5:16)
- “For the Lord sets a father in honor over his children and confirms a mother’s authority over her sons. Those who honor their father atone for sins; they store up riches who respect their mother.” (Sirach 3:2-4)
- “When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.” (Matthew 1:24)
- “When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord” (Luke 2:22)
- “Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another.” (Colossians 3:12-13a)
- “Wives, be subordinate to your husbands, as is proper in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and avoid any bitterness toward them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is pleasing to the Lord.” (Colossians 3:18-20)
- “Whatever you do, do from the heart, as for the Lord and not for others, knowing that you will receive from the Lord the due payment of the inheritance.” (Colossians 3:23-24a)
- “…I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that he may grant you in accord with the riches of his glory to be strengthened with power through his Spirit…” (Ephesians 3:14-16)
Prayer for the Day
“Almighty and Merciful God, bless our family.
Be so kind as to give us the unity, peace,
and mutual love that You found in Your own Family
in the little town of Nazareth.
“Saint Joseph, bless the head of our family.
Obtain for him the strength,
the wisdom, and the prudence
he needs to support and direct those under his care.
“Mother Mary, bless the mother of our family.
Help her to be pure and kind,
gentle and self-sacrificing.
For the more she resembles you,
the better will our family be.
“Lord Jesus, bless the children of our family.
Help them to be obedient and devoted to their parents.
Make them more and more like You.
Let them grow, as You did,
in wisdom and age and grace before God and man.
“Holy Family of Nazareth,Anonymous
make our family and home more like Yours,
until we are all one family, happy and at peace
in our true home with You forever. Amen.”