Solemnity of the Holy Family
December 26, 2021
Many beautiful and holy things are said of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. They were a family no doubt unique in human history. A perfect mother, a perfect son, and a husband and stepfather who was truly saintly. Perfect harmony, perfect love, …. thoroughly holy…. the Holy Family.
Indeed we need to have such a family to which to turn to assist us, we who live in an imperfect world. We who are fathers and husbands, mothers and wives, sons and daughters, need a vision of what God meant families to be in His original plan when He created the first human family back in the time of Adam and Eve, a plan that never came to fulfillment until the Holy Family because of Adam’s sin, yet a plan that was never completely lost.
My family and yours have been created in the image of God‘s original plan. Although we have the image, we must grow into the likeness of what God intended and finally fulfilled in the Holy Family. We are not completely like them now; it is something for which we must continually strive to become.
All of us grew up in some sort of family, some good and some not so good. We are an imperfect people, living in an imperfect world, using imperfect means to get through life, so none of our families are perfect. Some are far from it. Some are even harmful. We all know that when we begin our families we carry into it both the good and the bad of our own families. But along with all our baggage and fallen human nature, God has given us the Holy Family as a model of His plan for us, a plan for which we must strive to live as Jesus Mary and Joseph lived.
How diligent are we in becoming like the Holy Family?
To grow into the likeness of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, and God’s plan for families, we must believe in each other and believe that we can become more and more like the Holy Family. It requires patience, love, compassion, kindness, gentleness, forgiveness, and so much more, at Saint Paul tells us in the reading today.
Saint Joseph was an exemplary stepfather and husband. He protected Mary from shame and death by taking her into his home as his wife even though he knew he had not father the child in her womb. He later discovered an external danger to his family, and in the middle of the night took Mary and Jesus on a long journey to Egypt to protect them from King Herod. We who are fathers and husbands, how well do we protect our families and lead them to places of safety away from the destructive influences of the world? To do this may require an act of heroism on our part. Fathers must read the world around them and move to safeguard their families, regardless of the cost.
Mary was a perfect mother. She nourished and fed Jesus. She no doubt caressed Him and sustained Him in His humanity and she stood by Him during His passion and death. She never abandoned Him. Her heart and His heart were united throughout His passion and death. The bond between Mary and Jesus has never been severed, not even now in heaven. The cumulative knowledge of the ages has taught us that a mother’s strong bond prevents a multitude of problems in the life of her child. Moms, remain connected to your children from the moment of conception until natural death. Moms, you are the spiritual guides of your families. You know our hearts.You read them. You guard our souls. You are gifted with an intuitive knowledge of what will nourish our hearts and what will harm them. You know what is necessary for your children to become parents of their own future family. You give your lives for your children, and you stand by your husbands in defending them from harm. We who are fathers and husbands may be the outer guards of the family but you are the inner guards.
Jesus was a perfect son. He was obedient and respectful, grateful and reverent towards Joseph and Mary. One of the last things He did before He died on the cross was care for His mother’s needs. We who are children, do we express our gratitude, obedience, and reverence to our parents? Do we pray for them? Are we sincerely thankful for all our parents have done for us?
Remember, none of our families are perfect but we are made in the image of the Holy Family, and it is our job to slowly grow into the likeness of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. God provides us the Holy Family as a model of His plan for all of us, and He gives us what we need to live out our vocations. I have seen many examples of heroism in family life. At times being a husband and father, or a wife and mother, will require heroic things. Every good parent is a hero in the eyes of their children. Children on some level understand that God gives them heroes as parents.
Through the intercession of the Blessed Mother and the Saint Joseph, may all our families experience the peace and security we so very much want for them in this world.