Holy Family 2009

Outside of this morning’s Gospel reading, we do not know much about the early life of Our Lord.  The Gospels tell us about His birth; Saint Luke records in his Gospel this incident, when Mary and Saint Joseph found the child in the temple, which happened when Jesus was twelve years old; the next thing that we know of Him is that He began His public ministry when He was about thirty years old.

The silence of the Gospel concerning Jesus’ hidden life tells us that Jesus lived a normal life with His family in Nazareth.  Tradition holds that He was a carpenter, like His foster-father Saint Joseph.  He worked diligently and skillfully with His hands.  By working with His hands He sanctified work.  When we work, we can unite our work to that of Jesus.  We can all imitate the example of the Holy Family by faithfully fulfilling our daily duties.  Whenever we begin a project or start a chore, we can prayerfully offer it to the Lord.  By doing our work willingly, for the love of God, we transform our work into a prayer.  If we form the habit of consecrating our work to God, we will pray always as Saint Paul tells us to.  Our work has to get done one way or another.  Complaining about it or performing the work begrudgingly doesn’t do anything but make us feel worse.  When we offer the work to God as a prayer, the work gets done and we grow closer to God.

We are all called to imitate the virtues practiced by the Holy Family; we are all called to be Saints.  We can easily be tempted to think that if we only lived in different circumstances, then we would be to be a Saint.  One doesn’t have to fly to a monastery in order to become holy.  One doesn’t have to do extraordinary things in order to attain the heights of sanctity; to grow in holiness, we only have to do all that we do out of love.  The Church gives us the Feast we celebrate today, the Feast of the Holy Family, in order to call our attention to that fact that family life is holy.  I am called to be holy in whatever station in life I am in.  I am called to love God regardless of any difficulties.  In fact, the more difficult our live is, the more we stand in need of God’s grace.

By doing each and every action out of love, we can grow in holiness.  Mothers, think of the tenderness and the love which the Blessed Mother had for her Son and for her spouse, Saint Joseph.  Meditate upon the love that she had in her heart as she carried out her daily duties.  Imitate that love.  Ask Our Lady to fill your heart with all the motherly love of her Immaculate Heart.

Fathers, meditate upon the strong and silent witness that Saint Joseph gives to us in Scripture; He faithfully fulfilled God’s will in all things.  He loved his family and provided for them.  He protected them and cherished them.  He was never harsh, but always the most loving of fathers.  Pray to Saint Joseph that you will love your family as he loved the Holy Family.  Pray to him in order to obtain the grace to be a good example for your families.

It is good for us to meditate upon the Christ-child, Whose birth we are still celebrating in this octave of Christmas.  As an infant, He was totally dependent upon Mary and Saint Joseph for everything.  In this morning’s Gospel we hear that “He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them.”  The One through Whom and for Whom all things were made, subjected Himself to human parents.

The Holy Family is an important Feast day, especially in our own day and age when the family is under such fierce attack.  Our society wants to bring into question what it means to be a family.  From the beginning, God created man and woman to come together as one flesh.  Jesus Christ reaffirmed that family life is sacred: What God has joined no one must divide.

It is not surprising that the family is under attack.  The family is meant to be an image of God.  From all eternity, God existed as a Community of Persons.  When God made man in His image and likeness, He made man to live in community.  It was not good for the man to be alone, so God made him a helpmate: a wife.  Christ raised the union of husband and wife to the dignity of a Sacrament.  Saint Paul taught us that Christian marriage is an image of the love that Christ has for the Church.  Husbands are supposed to love their wives as Christ loves the Church: and Christ died for the Church.

The Devil hates God and he hates the Church.  The Devil hates human beings because we are made in God’s image and he hates marriage because it is a reflection of the love that Christ has for the Church.  The Devil will do all in his power to destroy souls and to destroy marriage.

The way to fight back, of course, is through prayer.  There is a saying that you have probably heard: the family that prays together, stays together.  This is not just a cute saying; it is very true.  Sin divides.  Conversely, the closer we are to God, the closer we will be to one another.

Let us entrust ourselves, and our families, to the care and protection of the Holy Family this Feast day.  May the love that was lived by the Holy Family in Nazareth inspire us to greater love within our own families.  May the Lord draw families closer together and closer to Himself.  Jesus, Mary and Joseph we love you save souls; save our families and all families.  Amen.