The Holy Family

Reading I – Sirach 3:2-6,12-14
Responsorial Psalm – 128:1-2,3,4-5
Reading II – Colossians 3:12-21
Reading III – Luke 2:22-40

In his Letter to Families in 1994, Pope John Paul II eloquently expressed that of the many paths we walk:

the family is the first and the most important. It is a path common to all, yet one which is particular, unique and unrepeatable, just as every individual is unrepeatable; it is a path from which man cannot withdraw. Indeed, a person normally comes into the world within a family, and can be said to owe to the family the very fact of his existing as an individual” (John Paul II, 2)

As we celebrate the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, the words of Pope John Paul II find justification in today’s readings.  The scriptures of the past week offer glimpses of the Holy Family’s glorious path to God’s promise. Key to their strength as a family was their understanding of the importance of obedience to God: “For the Lord sets a father in honor over his children and confirms a mother’s authority over her sons” (Sir 3:2).

As children of God and parents of Christ, Mary and Joseph fulfilled their obligations and reaped the rewards of their obedience in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. They did this not for their sake but for ours. Likewise, Jesus, by his life and death, modeled Deuteronomy’s words: “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 of the LORD your God is giving you” (Dt 5:16).

In Jesus’ obedience, we find the bond of perfection (cf. Col 3:14). It is through his love that “the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body” (Col 3:15) with his church. It is in our union with Christ through his church that we echo John Paul II’s words: “Following Christ who ‘came’ into the world ‘to serve’ (Mt 20:28), the Church considers serving the family to be one of her essential duties. In this sense both man and the family constitute ‘the way of the Church’ (John Paul II, 1).

By honoring God, Joseph and Mary became the holy and beloved parents we are called to be: “Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways” (cf. Ps 128: 1). Through their parenting, they taught us how to love our children with “heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience bearing with one another and forgiving one another” (Col 3:12).

Mary and Joseph understood that Jesus was the center of a strong family. They knew this not by their own accord but by God’s grace. It was this understanding that guided Mary in motherhood.  It was what gave Joseph courage to stay with Mary; and it was what led them to present Jesus for consecration. It is through the consecration that the “child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom and the favor of God” (Lk 2:40).

As we honor the Holy Family’s obedience and love, let’s pray that their example becomes embedded in our hearts. That we, too, can be faithful to God and live our lives filled with love, mercy, and care not only for our children but for all children and families living among us.