The family is the fundamental unit of human society; it is the soil in which each of us has roots. In some way we always have family as our goal. Perhaps our near goal is a phone call to a relative, or perhaps it is to help another family through our prayers, or to live on in the bright hope of seeing family members who have passed on to the Lord. The good of family is beyond our imagining.

God has hallowed the family and made a family the privileged place of His revelation of himself to us in love. From among the people of Israel – that people who valued family even to enumerating the generations in the formulas of scripture, “... of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” — God chose Mary and Joseph to make a human home for his Incarnate Son.

Mary Immaculate gave of her flesh in the womb. As the Christ Child grew closer to making his appearance, she sang to him, and then she nourished him with her own milk. With Mary we find St. Joseph the adoptive father; there to protect, watch over, work with, and teach the young Jesus. One artist referred to Joseph as the “shadow of the eternal Father.” Joseph, like all fathers, was called to model and make visible the care of the Almighty Father. Mary and Joseph took turns carrying Jesus.

What is holy about the Holy Family is that Christ was in their midst, making himself vulnerable, so Mary, Joseph, and, eventually, all of us could share in his life and mission.

Joseph and Mary were faithful to their call. Jesus’ presence makes us more like himself, more like the Divine Love who calls us to practice a deeper mercy that brings a peace this world is incapable of generating without the grace of his presence. We are empowered to seek and find him even in the strangers in need who have been given to us as extended family.

We are part of the Family of God. Thus, we speak in familial terms: God the Father, Jesus our brother, Mary and the Church our mother, and always to one another as brothers and sisters with the saints who together, as is perfect, pray “Our Father.”

We think of the Holy Family in flight to Egypt, reunited in Jerusalem, and in their home life amidst the ordinary demands of a day. The family is a school of holiness and love, one which we pray for especially when it is in danger. The family is ordinary and unavoidable, the way that human life comes to be. We ask Jesus, Mary, and Joseph that our families might become, in grace, magnificent celebrations of mercy in which the closeness of God is known by all.

Published on: Friday, December 30, 2022 by Fr. Hugh Vincent Dyer O.P.

Tags: Holy Days

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