Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. The Family of Nazareth is a model for us as to what marriage, family, and home life are meant to be. Some people struggle with this, but when we look at the Holy Family we see how this can be.
Our first reading today stresses the gift that Isaac is to Abraham and Sarah. Being childless in Old Testament times was seen as a curse. Fortunately we no longer look at it this way. Granted, childlessness is a cause of great sadness but it must never be seen as a punishment from God.
Abraham was sad and worried as he had no heir. God promised him one and that through his heir numerous descendants would come to be. It was through him and his descendants that the Christ eventually came from.
Children are a blessing from God and the best gift parents can give their children is not money or possessions, but the experience of being loved. Nothing whatsoever can make up for this gift.
Our second reading today stresses that husbands and wives need to have great faith to live out their marital vows. To be faithful to such a commitment is not always easy and takes hard work. When children become a part of the picture, parents are called to hand on that gift of faith which is best nourished by family prayer. As the saying goes, “The family that prayers together stays together!”
The Gospel reading speaks of the events that surrounded the conception and birth of Jesus. Jesus would be the hope and comfort of Israel, and a light for all nations. But the Gospel also speaks of Jesus being rejected, a rejection that would cause a sword of sorrow to pierce Mary’s heart.
There is no reason to believe that Mary and Joseph had a clear understanding of either the full identity or destiny of the Child. However, they played a crucial role in bringing him up in faith and love so as to help him understand his destiny. The home at Nazareth provided the kind of atmosphere in which Jesus was able to grow in age, wisdom, and maturity before God and others.
Every child is a gift from God and has a unique destiny. That destiny is hidden from the parents as they wonder what their child will become. Having given them life, they must allow them the freedom to live that life. Above all, they must be careful not to stand in the way of God’s plan for their child’s life.
Parents have a responsibility to pray that God will guide their children in the choices they make. Mistakes will be made, but growth comes from our mistakes.
The family is a community of love and the home is the domestic church where that love is experienced. The atmosphere in the home is determined by the quality of the relationships. Parents and children contribute to the making of a holy atmosphere.
Family life can be very challenging. It involves both giving and receiving and the Family of Nazareth is the model for this.
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, pray that our families may be holy as was yours.
— Father Dennis, December 31, 2017