We celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family on December 26th, the day after the arrival of our Savior, Jesus Christ. In 1921, Pope Benedict XV established the feast to present the Holy Family as the ideal model for Catholic families everywhere and remind us of why we celebrate Christmas. It is the arrival of new life, God becoming flesh.
While little is known about the first thirty years of Jesus’s life, the hidden moments and the lives of the Holy Family are still worth contemplating. St. Joseph, who never speaks a word in the Bible is not a background character in salvation history. Rather, he was at the forefront of Jesus’s life, protecting Him from danger, sanctifying his difficulties, teaching Jesus the value of work.
Jesus was preparing Himself for His public ministry, the period when He would go out into the world and teach all those who would listen. Jesus has a human nature and a divine nature, though. He was presented in the temple, He got lost in the temple, He wept, He suffered pain, and He died. While God is infinitely superior to us in every way, He still humbled Himself by becoming flesh so that He could suffer, die, and rise from the dead for us.
And Mary, ever the handmaid of the Lord, we can imagine taking care of Joseph and Jesus, her two most beloved ones. It is perhaps better that we do not have the explicit details of their lives. We can find ourselves contemplating what it must have been like. What were their meals like? How did they celebrate holidays and feasts? How did Joseph and Mary show love for one another? What little mortifications did they endure, as every household does?
We can take these brief meditations and apply them to our own family life, our own struggles, our own successes. We are called to make the home a place of virtue and can do this by setting a good example, imitating the undeniable charity that filled the home of the Holy Family. Jesus spent three decades in the private life, simply living with His family, all in preparation for three years of public ministry. That should tell you just how important the dynamics of a family structure are.
Every person who learns to love and give of themselves learns to do so in the context of a family. While it may not feel like it to you, that is why Jesus came into this world through a family. He came to redeem and heal all the shattered relationships, the trauma, and the pain. Though your earthly family might not be a place of love, there are three members of your family who will never fail you: Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.
O God… grant that we may imitate… the Holy Family… in practicing the virtues of family life and in the bonds of charity.
Queen of the family, pray for us!