The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph
Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14
Psalm 128:1-2, 3, 4-5 (1)
Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23
December 29, 2019
We continue our celebration of Christmas for Jesus’ birth is too important to celebrate with just a single day. So, we make it a whole season that will continue until we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord on January 12th.
Christmas is a time when families come together. With this in mind, today we celebrate Jesus, Mary, and Joseph as the Holy Family.
It would be easy to imagine that Jesus was the perfect child and the Holy Family had an easy life but it wasn’t all that easy.
Jesus being born in a stable would hardly be considered an easy beginning. The challenges didn’t end there. Joseph has another dream where the angel of the Lord tells him to “take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you.”
Joseph and Mary were probably hoping to return home and get back to their normal lives but it was not to be. They had to go to Egypt just as Jacob and his sons did in a time of famine before the Exodus.
We are not told what their time in Egypt was like but I’m sure it had it challenges. What did Joseph do for work? Where did they live?
Then, at the appointed time for the prophecy, “Out of Egypt I called my son,” to be fulfilled, the Lord again sent an angel to Joseph in a dream to tell him to return with Jesus and Mary to Israel. They left Egypt towards the promised land. What the Israelites had done in the Exodus, Jesus does.
They were probably ecstatic at the opportunity to finally return home but the challenges were not over. When Joseph “heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go back there.”
So much for their hope to return home but the Lord did not desert Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Once again, another prophecy is fulfilled when God sends them to Nazareth.
In all these challenges, what Jesus, Mary, and Joseph did, they did as a family.
Family is something that God sets in the divine order of things. “God sets a father in honor over his children, a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons.” God calls children to honor their parents. We obey our parents when we are young and take care of them when they are old.
Paul says wives as to be subordinate to their husbands but the line does not stop there. It continues, “Husbands, love your wives.” There must be a two-way relationship in marriage. Likewise, Paul writes, “Children, obey your parents in everything” but this is balanced by “Fathers, do not provoke your children” in which I include fathers are not to take advantage of their children.
Family is meant to be a place where we learn good virtues, teaching and admonishing one another. Family is called the “domestic church” because family is to be a place where we first learn how God calls us to live with “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”
Family is something special. Families are meant to be a source of strength but families can also be a challenge because of hurt and broken relationships. Hence, Paul’s words, “bearing with one another and forgiving one another.”
Family can be a place where, when we are hurt, we learn to forgive. When we are hurt by others, it might seem simplest to walk away, never to see them again. With family, it isn’t so easy to walk away and we need to learn to forgive and let go of the hurt. Of course, the reality is we don’t always reconcile even with family members.
Our opening prayer speaks of the “shining example of the Holy Family” and calls us to “imitate them.” Here I want to speak of how they were a family. I mentioned before that one of the challenges that they would have faced in Egypt was Joseph needing to find a job to provide for the family.
This was certainly important but we are not told the details. Providing for their family is something parents are to do but just as, even more important is being there for their family. The two most important things families can do is to lead each other to God and to be there for each other. This is what it means to love.
Be an example to one another in your family.
Who is the example of faith in your family?
How are you an example of faith?
What can you do to follow the “shining example of the Holy Family”?