The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, December 27
May the Most 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 an example for each of us to follow – these are examples of 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.
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, on this first Sunday after Christmas, we celebrate the Solemnity 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 a 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 Joseph’s intention not to expose her to shame by quietly divorcing 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 the love which a husband is to have for his wife.
Yet, even after Jesus’ birth, life for the Holy Family was anything but easy. 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 story today is that it has 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, for there seems to be a lot more broken or at least more 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 upon 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 also 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. Together with a shared faith, love is that emotional bond which holds together the family structure. And without faith 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.
Just as the business of being family was not always an easy road for our parents, just as it is not always easy for us – so, too, it was not always easy for the Mother and foster father of our Savior either.
We hear in our Gospel today, “…the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it…they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple…”
How many times does a parent turn around in a shopping mall, and lose track of their child, even if only for a moment. If this actually happened to any of you reading this, you can imagine the fear and concern that filled the minds of Mary and Joseph losing Jesus for three whole days, not just for a moment!
“When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, ‘Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.’”
Both Mary and Joseph had been told by the Archangel Gabriel that Jesus was the Son of God, yet their reaction to losing Jesus was truly a loving parents’ reaction, a human reaction that was filled with suffering and distress. In Mary and Joseph, we can see our own parenthood as a mother or father to our children.
When our children become sick or hurt in some way, or worse yet – missing, would we not also be filled with suffering and anguish?
And when found in the Temple and questioned, how did Jesus respond? This entire Gospel story has been leading up to this point. It is here that Luke record’s Jesus’ first words. It is not Gabriel or Mary or Zachariah or angels or Simeon who proclaim who Jesus is.
It is Jesus Himself who proclaims who He is and what His purpose in coming amongst us was: “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
As spoken of by Saint Ambrose, one of the Fathers of the Church, there are two generations in Christ – one from His Father and the other from His Mother – His Father’s is Divine, His Mother’s is human, who has been given to us as a most excellent Role Model for our personal edification and benefit.
And, as Scripture tells us, Jesus “…went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart.”
The Holy Child, the Son of God through whom the entire universe was created, the Omnipotent God becoming Son of Man by being born of a woman – submits Himself to obedience, an act of profound humility – which IS a lesson for each of us, especially the young, to take to heart!
Hearing the story of Jesus in the Temple at Christmastime reminds us that, while Christmas is a time for family, it does not make being family any easier. But Christmas does remind us that the potential for being a holy family truly exists for each and every one of us.
The Feast of the Holy Family today invites both you and me 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 ourselves? 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, how are we responding as children of God to all that He asks 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 each of us in the love we hold for those dearest to us in the here and now. And may the Holy Family, Jesus, Mary and Joseph, become a holy example and model for 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 each and every one of you. †
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)
- “…the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it…not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple…When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, ‘Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.’” (Luke 2:43b, 45-46a, 48)
- “And [Jesus] said to them, ‘Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?’ …He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart.” (Luke 2:49, 51)
- “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.”