Feast of the Holy Family: Family of God in the World
Value and Support the Family Today
Father Rafael de Mosteyrin offers this article on the liturgical feast of the Holy Family, God’s Family in the World.
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When the Wise Men had departed, “an Angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said to him: ’Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him. And he rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt have I called my Son”(Matthew 2: 13-15).
The three persons of the Holy Family appear in this evangelical passage: Joseph, Mary, and Jesus. We celebrated Jesus’ birth on December 25. And the Church wanted the liturgical feast of the Holy Family to be celebrated the Sunday after Christmas. In 2021 it is, specifically, the day after His birth, and it coincides with the Year of the Family, convoked by Pope Francis until this coming June 26.
The Son of God makes himself a member of a humble family. Jesus, the Man-God, lives the love of a father and a mother in the family. Saint Joseph acted as Jesus’ father. Today’s feast acquires special importance at a time in which parents and children face many threats if the family is to be truly Christian.
When referring to the Family of Nazareth, Saint José María Escrivá de Balaguer used to speak of the Trinity of the earth. In this Trinity, made up of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus, Saint Joseph had the difficult role of governing the God of Heaven and earth and the Mother of God. The help he received was indispensable to carry out the mission he received: “Take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt.” The Holy Family is certainly unrepeatable, being the family of God in the world. Therefore, we must look at the family with faith and seek in it the fullness of God’s love. It’s the best example for all Christian families. Hence, before God, the love of parents is of vital importance. “Whoever honors his father, will rejoice in his children, and he will be heard in the day of his supplication.”
On celebrating this feast, the Church wants us all to appreciate and support the family, which brings great benefit to society. However, in our days, it is faced by a society that undervalues it, as if it represented values that are different from those of modern society. Therefore, it is time for us Christians to come to its defense without complexes. We are concerned about the abundant marriage breakups and the consequences on the poor children, the spread of divorce and the increase of de facto couples, the social acceptance of abortion and euthanasia, as well as easy recourse to assisted reproduction. In his Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, Saint John Paul II affirmed that the future of humanity is forged in the family.
Moreover, it’s a joy to see the good that a truly Christian family gives, with its virtues and defects, but conscious that each one is called to be better than he is, and to love others as they are. Pedro de Rezende and Keny Abaroa are a Brazilian married couple, and parents of seven children. Pedro told Pope Francis that, on one occasion, he was helping his six-year-old son to make his examination of conscience, namely, a review of the day before going to bed, to thank God for what he did well and to ask forgiveness for his bad actions. Then he heard his son praying: “Jesus, forgive Sarah for hitting me.” His father told him to ask forgiveness first for the wrong things he had done. Then his son said: “Jesus, forgive me because I hit Sarah first.”
A healthy family is, for Christians, the best school to reach holiness. In the Letter t the Colossians, Saint Paul teaches how we should behave in the family. There is advice for all: husbands, wives, parents, children and relatives, and a capital exhortation: ”And above all have charity, which is the bond of perfection, and may the peace of Christ triumph in your hearts, to which you were called in one body, and be grateful.
On the occasion of today’s feast, we can all make an examination of conscience, on our concern <to live> a Christian life in our family, on our thoughts, words, and deeds. Also on the fulfillment of our responsibilities, to see if God is happy with each one of us. If it’s not so, it’s necessary to rectify with the help of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, the Trinity of the earth and model of every human family. For our prayers to be received better, we put them in the hands of Holy Mary and Saint Joseph, who had the happiness of taking care of God’s Son on earth, giving him the affection of a home.
Oh, Joseph, holy Patriarch, guardian of Jesus and Mary, help our parents and siblings in all their spiritual and material needs, so that they will be able to bless our Divine Redeemer eternally in glory.