Lessons from the Holy Family for us today

from Saint Andrew Daily Missal:

“Is it not fitting,” says Leo XIII, “to celebrate the royal birth of the Son of the supreme Father, of the house of David and the glorious names of that ancient line? Yet it is more consoling for us to call to memory the little house at Nazareth and the humble life lived there; thus celebrating the hidden life of our Lord. For there the divine Child received his training in Joseph’s humble trade; there hidden and sheltered, He grew up and showed Himself ready to share the toil of a carpenter’s life. Let the moisture,” he seemed to say, “trickle over my limbs before they are drenched with the torrent of my blood, and the pain of this labour shall go to atone for the sins of men.” Close to the divine Child is His tender Mother; close to Joseph stands his devoted wife, happy to relieve their toil and suffering by her loving care: O Thou, who Wait not free from toil and care and who hast known adversity, come to the aid of the unfortunate, crippled by poverty and struggling against the difficulties of life”.

In this lowly dwelling at Nazareth, by practising the domestic virtues of charity, obedience, mutual help and regard, Jesus, Mary and Joseph hallowed family life . There too they constantly found joy and peace in recollection and prayer in common. May the great Christian family practise here on earth the virtues of the Holy Family, so meriting a life in their blessed company in Heaven.

Benedict XV, being desirous of securing for souls the blessings flowing from meditation on the virtues of the Holy Family and from their imitation, extended this feast to the universal Church, fixing its observance for the Sunday in the Octave of the Epiphany.

“He was subject to them.”

“Who was subject?” St. Bernard asks, “and to whom?”

“A God to men! Yes, the God whom the angels serve, whom the Principalities and Powers obey. He was subject to Mary and not to Mary only, but to Joseph also, for Mary’s sake. That a God should obey a human creature; here is humility without parallel. That the same human creature should command God; here is height and depth nowhere else attained. Man, learn to obey. Earth, learn to consent to a low estate. Dust, learn to humble yourself, for the Evangelist says of your Creator; “He was subject to them,” and there is no doubt that this means, to Mary and Joseph. Blush then, proud ashes. A God humbles Himself; while you exalt yourself. A God becomes subject to men, while you, seeking to rule over men, put yourself above your Creator. O Man, if you will not condescend to follow the example of a man, surely it will not be beneath you to follow your Creator.”


from “Venite Prandete”:

The most efficacious method of embracing the depth of God’s love for us, in order to convey this love to others, is by meditating upon the face of Jesus, or upon the face of His Blessed Mother. Similarly, the most efficacious way to understand the potential of our particular family is by meditating on the Holy Family. This feast day is one in which we can reflect on the Holy Family as a model for our family lives.

The Holy Family was a family like no other. However, a meditation on the relationships which governed this family unit is not a dry and academic exercise: This was a family which operated in simple love and obedience to God’s will and to each other. It was a family that was not powerful or wealthy, but which, nevertheless, had an effect upon the world and humanity for the subsequent history of mankind. This was a family that changed the course of history and touched all of us.

Each family has dimensions that are both legal and material, but also metaphysical and spiritual. In reflecting on the nature and dynamics of the Holy Family, we are assisted in understanding the potential within ourselves upon which we can draw, individually and as a group.

Today, it is especially important to understand and to teach the values of Christ within the Church at home. In the circumstances of the individual family, it is possible to meditate upon those family values and to resolve to approach the tasks of the home and the relationships with family members with renewed generosity of spirit, humility and selflessness – to give love to each member of the family generously and to give without taking score.

There is, however, another aspect to the family that has a potentially powerful political effect: The family is the nucleus of our society. It is for this reason that totalitarian regimes seek to target and destroy the family and to weaken the family bonds in order to indoctrinate the young. It is within the family unit that the young person learns to think as an individual, to develop a moral code by which the courage to resist populist doctrines can be imbued and where the values of a harmonious culture are instilled.

We are currently in a post sexual revolution world where the consequences of the sexual revolution reveal to us families that are split, sexuality that is confusing, and where young people are exposed to, and expected to participate in, behaviour for which they are not emotionally equipped. We are in a crisis in the Church where the sexual abuse scandals have resulted in a generation of priests and young people who have been scandalized and victimized by the actions of predatory people who have abused trust. Now, more than ever, we need strong and faithful Catholics to defend Holy Mother Church and to openly and honestly teach and live by her Truths. We need courageous people who will defend the family.

This is a battle which is fought simply by living a life which reflects, as much as is possible, the values of the Holy Family and the teachings of Jesus Christ. In doing so, we must strive to make our home a sanctuary, a place of refuge and love, where the love of God is directed to those within our family and to all people as created in God’s image.


“O Jesus, our most loving Saviour! Thou Who was sent down from heaven to enlighten the world by Thy teaching and example, and Who willed to pass the greater part of Thy holy life in Nazareth, subject to Mary and Joseph, and thereby did allow the household which was to be a pattern for all Christian families, do Thou in Thy goodness receive our household which this day consecrates itself to Thee. Protect and guard us, strengthen us in holy fear, establish in our hearts the peace and concord of Christian charity, so that each one of us, becoming like to the Divine model of Thy family, may be sharers of eternal joy.

O Mary, most loving Mother of Jesus Christ, our Mother, through thy love and mercy intercede, that Jesus receive this act of Consecration and pour out His graces and blessings.

O Joseph, most holy guardian of Jesus and Mary, help us by thy prayers in all our necessities, both of body and soul: that together with the Blessed Virgin Mary and thyself we shall praise and thank Jesus Christ, our Divine Redeemer.”

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2 Responses to Lessons from the Holy Family for us today

  1. Nelson says:

    Reblogged this on Nelson MCBS.


  2. Catholic Perspective of Jesus and His earthly Family a Birth
    Lawrence Morra III
    Zero Lift-Off
    Only The Beginning
    Republication for sharing purposes on nonprofit Christian basis social media site
    Thanks to: ncronline.org

    The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
    Dec 26, 2020
    by Mary M. McGlone

    Detail of painting “The Presentation of Christ in the Temple” by Giovanni di Paolo, circa 1435 (Metropolitan Museum of Art)
    It takes a village to raise a child. That’s a subtle, unspoken assumption in Luke’s account of the first time Jesus entered the temple. As Luke tells his story, he depicts Joseph, Mary and all of Israel as part of the scene when Jesus first entered what he would call his father’s house.
    The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
    December 27, 2020
    Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14
    Psalm 128:1-5
    Colosssians 3:12-21
    Luke 2:22-40
    Although Luke is careful to insist that the family went to fulfill the law, as soon as they arrived, their ritual reasons for being there were sidelined as the chosen people came to the fore in the guise of two elders. Just as Elizabeth and Zechariah, the Baptist’s parents, had symbolized Sarah and Abraham, Anna and Simeon recall the story of Hannah who brought her son Samuel to Eli in the temple where holy women watched the scene.
    These details situate the infant Jesus in the center of the history of his own people. The village that produced and raised him stretches back 2,000 years to God’s covenant with Abraham. Jesus belongs to the chosen people by law, by heritage and by recapitulating their history in himself.
    There’s a unique beauty and important Gospel theme depicted by the fact that while Jesus’ entry into the temple symbolized his membership in the people of God, the individuals who recognized and welcomed him were simple elders. The temple would have been swarming with ordinary folk like Anna and Simeon, along with authorities like scribes, Pharisees, priests and other officials. In the midst of all of them, it was Simeon, a man with no titles but a sterling reputation, who, as he held the child, somehow beheld everything he had ever hoped for.
    With his predictions about Jesus, Luke allowed Simeon to foreshadow the rest of the Gospel story. Then, came Anna, the ancient widow who spent her life in prayer. While Simeon prayed in thanksgiving and spoke to Mary and Joseph, Anna took on the role of being the first evangelist, announcing Jesus’ presence to all who were awaiting redemption.
    When we envision all that happens in this story, we begin to realize that the Feast of the Holy Family is really not about a nuclear family of two parents and an only child, but a celebration of human community. This story and its symbolism introduce us to a web of relationships that grows exponentially as each of the original characters comes in touch with others who spread the word to their relations, and on and on, from age to age.
    Our communities are particularly important as we celebrate the family on this Sunday after Christmas. Many families will be basking in Christmas memories and enjoying the gifts they received just two days ago. At the same time, a great number of our people did not celebrate the season with an intact nuclear or extended family. For many, the holidays highlight the hurts of broken marriages, family feuds, or the loss of loved ones. If Christmas was hard for them, the Feast of the Holy Family can feel like a day of unnecessarily rubbing salt in their wounds.
    In order to make this feast more accessible to all, we might take our cue from Luke and celebrate it as a feast of our ever-expanding community of loving relationships. With that perspective, we can enjoy Sirach’s wisdom about respecting parents as a reminder to be grateful for all we have received from our elders: parents and extended family, the pillars of the parish, retired religious women, and our ancestors in faith.
    Today’s optional reading from Genesis invites us to remember our roots in the Jewish tradition and to stand with Abraham as he wondered if God’s promises could ever come true. God’s covenant with Abraham started the storyline in which God fulfills promises to accomplish the impossible with people who strive to be faithful.
    The Letter to the Colossians offers a meditation about how to build up our communities. The key idea is to allow love to be “the bond of perfection” among us. That does not mean that we will be perfect, but that our bonds of love will outweigh the imperfections that tear a community apart when we give them too much importance.
    The Feast of the Holy Family certainly celebrates families. On a larger scale, it invites us to cherish and develop our ability to participate in communities of love. We are created for God, in the image of the Triune God whom we know as a constantly expanding, all-encompassing community of love. Like Jesus, we all have the ability to enter into and form the communities that make us more human and more godlike.
    The family we really celebrate today is the whole, holy family of humankind, bound together across the ages by the God who loves us into life — now and forever, amen.
    This story appeared in the Dec. 11-24, 2020 print issue under the headline: The whole family of God .

    Mary M. McGlone
    St. Joseph Sr. Mary M. McGlone serves on the congregational leadership team of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet.


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