THE HOLY FAMILY OF JESUS, MARY AND JOSEPH
Merry Christmas! The season lasts twelve days, after all. This Sunday we honor a humble family from Nazareth: Jesus, Mary and Joseph. The Holy Family might seem hard to relate to. What do our families have in common with the household formed by the Son of God, the Immaculate Virgin, and the Just Man?
Yet if we look more closely, the Holy Family appears quite like us in a few important respects.
First, if you have ever been concerned about your family’s finances, you aren’t alone! Those “two turtledoves” we hear about in the song are actually a sign of the Holy Family’s poverty. In Luke 2:24, we read that Mary and Joseph brought two turtledoves to the temple as a sacrifice for the first-born son. Now normally families were to offer a lamb: the exception was made for needy families who would have had difficulty obtaining one (see Leviticus 12:1-4). Our Lord chose to enter a family that had to work for a living, a family that at times could not provide what was considered “standard” for society.
Second, Mary and Joseph each faced a task beyond them. Mary receives the angel’s message that in her, something entirely new and inexplicable is about to take place. Joseph must protect the Christ child and His Mother, leaving in the dead of night to smuggle them away from Herod’s soldiers. They both felt fear in the face of what was asked of them regarding this child. But what mom or dad doesn’t feel some fear and trepidation at each stage of parenthood? From pregnancy to infancy, from school years to full-fledged adulthood, even the best of kids raise questions of their parents: can we do this? What if I’m not enough?
But in the face of these questions, the Holy Family’s story parallels our own in a third important respect: God gave them what they needed. While the task Mary and Joseph faced loomed much larger than them, grace also abounded to strengthen them to do what needed to be done. They faced each day’s challenges as they came. They were confident that, though they may not have felt like they were enough, they had nevertheless been chosen.
As the saying goes, you can’t choose your family. We who believe in the Love that governs the universe know that our lives are not random – we, too, have been chosen for our families. And God never asks what His grace will not supply. Calling on Him for help, confident in the grace provided us through the sacraments, we can entrust our families to the One “from Whom all fatherhood is named.” He will never abandon what He has begun.
May peace and goodness accompany your family in the New Year!