The Holy Family as a model for our families and our society.
On the last Sunday of the year, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. In doing so, we offer all the members of our own families on the altar for God’s blessing. And it's important that we do so because it is through family that our society takes shape - or fails to do so!
We know that the family of Jesus was steeped in Scripture. Mary’s prayer, the
, has many Old Testament quotations. We know that Jesus’ family had a deep life of piety that included pilgrimages and prayer to the angels. Both Mary and Joseph were accustomed to receiving the guidance of Heaven’s messengers. From Jesus’ adulthood, we can also glimpse the prayer life He learned from His parents. He prayed the morning offering of pious Jews (Mk 12:29-30). He took time to pray alone, and also prayed with His friends. Jesus fasted and marked the holy days. All these habits He probably acquired from His home life in Nazareth. We know that work was important to Jesus’ family. In adulthood, Jesus was called not just “Joseph’s son,” but “the carpenter’s son,” showing Joseph's desire and work in training Jesus to follow him in a trade that was highly regarded in his day. We can also conclude that Mary was hard-working and frugal in keeping a house (c.f. Proverbs 31). It was likely from her example that Jesus drew many of His favorite stories: a woman finding just the right cloth to patch a piece of clothing, a woman setting aside leaven for tomorrow’s baking, a widow searching her house for a lost coin. Hard work, struggling to pay the bills, taking long road trips, praying simple devotions — all of this we learn from the Gospels.
By celebrating the Sunday following Christmas as the Feast of the Holy Family, the Church encourages us to look to the Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph for inspiration, example and encouragement. They were a model family in which both parents worked hard, helped each other, understood and accepted each other, and took good care of their Child so that He might grow up not only in human knowledge but also as a Child of God. Jesus brought holiness to the family of Joseph and Mary as Jesus brings us holiness by embracing us in His family.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
(CCC) gives this advice to parents: “Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by
creating a home
where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for
education in the virtues
. This requires an
apprenticeship in self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery
– the preconditions of all true freedom. Parents should teach their children to subordinate the “material and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones'” (CCC 2223). It then adds: “Parents have a grave responsibility to give good example to their children”.
On the Feast of the only perfect Family that ever lived on this earth, all parents might examine themselves and see how well they are fulfilling the grave responsibility which God has placed on them. As they heard during their marriage ceremony: “Children are a gift from God to you.” Children serve as the joy of their parents’ young years and the help and comfort of their old age, but above and beyond that, they are a gift for which their parents are accountable before God, as they must, in the end, return these, His children, to Him. Let us pray for the grace of caring for one another in our own families, for each member of the parish family, and for all families of the universal Church.
May God bless all your families in the New Year!
He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus advanced [in] wisdom and age and favor before God and man.
Our FORMED Recommendation for the Week
Movie (58:19) -
The Story of the Nativity: The Truth of Christmas
The story of the birth of Jesus is often misunderstood. But this fast-paced, thought-provoking look at the true story of the Nativity clears away widespread misunderstandings of Jesus' origin. Join top scholars, inspirational speakers, and popular authors as they explain the story behind the story of the birth of Jesus. The Story of the Nativity also includes stunning works of art depicting the biblical story, from Fra Angelico to Rembrandt, and footage from the Holy Land showing the places where the Christmas story actually took place. Explore the true story of Mary and Joseph, Jesus's miraculous conception, the birth of John the Baptist, the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, the Star of Bethlehem, and the birth of Jesus. This is an invaluable tool for believer and unbeliever alike to learn more about Jesus of Nazareth and about the truth of Christmas.
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Fr. Ed Blanchett
on Friday, December 27, 2019 at 3:00PM