Today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family. This reminds us that when the Father sent his Son to be with us (Emmanuel) he sent him as a little child, born of the Virgin, raised by St. Joseph, his foster-father. It seems perfectly natural to us to see this manger scene here with Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. But, this is really a great mystery!
Why did God send his Son into a family? The eternal Word of the Father is not bound by human structures. God did not have to become Man by being born into a family. Christ could have just descended upon a cloud. The fact that Jesus becomes human in a family tells us something: God loves the family. When the Word becomes man he does so in the midst of a communion of persons, the human family. John Paul II left us quite a few blessings, once such, I think, is his theology of the Body. This theology of the Body is complex but if there is one underlying theme it's that we are made in God's image and likeness, God is a communion of life and love, therefore, we fulfill our design most completely when we are living in a communion of life and love. In other words, we are made in God's image and likeness and we fulfill this no more perfectly than when we are living in families. God loves the family, and sent his son to live in the midst of a family because the family is meant to be a reflection of the very life and love of the Trinity. Now, I don't know about you and your family, but my family never quite lives up to this billing. But, this is the idea! We are supposed to be an image of the Trinity in the world. How do we get there? How do we get our families to become if not THE Holy Family, then at least A holy family?
St. Paul gives us some insight. I know that we might all instantly focus in on what he says about being subordinate. Many of us bristle at this line, and for good reason. We know that domination goes against our fundamental freedom as God's children. But, if we jump straight to that line we don't hear how this order comes about. Earlier in the reading Paul says: Put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. He says this way before the bit about subordination. Just imagine if every person in the family was full of compassion, kindness, and humility. I don't think anyone would be afraid of subordination if we were all full of these fundamental virtues.
How can we grow in these virtues as families? We should look to the Holy Family as a model for us. What made the Holy Family possible? First, the Holy Family would not have been possible without trust. Mary trusted in the message of Gabriel and Christ was conceived. Joseph trusted in the angel and the family was preserved from danger. What a great lesson for us, we must put our trust in the Lord, allow him to be the one to lead your family. Second, the Holy Family would not exist without Christ. It is the person of Jesus dwelling in the midst of the Holy Family that makes it Holy, invite Christ into your life as a family. Make the home a place of prayer and Sunday Mass an anchor for the whole family.
There has only been one "Holy Family." As for the rest of us, we all have problems. But, Christ was sent into the midst of the human family to help us overcome the shortcomings in our families. We must believe and trust in the power of Christ to overcome all sin and division, even and especially, in the midst of our human families.
Today this feast of the Holy Family teaches us about God's love for the family which is also meant to be a reflection of God's love in the world. We see that the family should be governed by love and compassion. Finally, we see the Holy Family as our model, because they trusted in God and kept Christ in the center of their lives. May it be so for our families as well.