We celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. The Sacred Readings invite us to meditate on the meaning of the Family of Nazareth and on our own family. In Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14, God sets a father in honor over his children; a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons. In Colossians 3:12-21, “Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, and in the Holy Gospel of St. Luke ( 2:41-52), “Each year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom.
We meditate on the Holy Family, on our family.
The family is in crisis today: separation, divorce, abortion, domestic violence, children abuse, pornography; wounded families, broken families, no family. Even the concepts of marriage and family are often ambiguous with the growing reality of same-sex marriages, single parent families, and so on. The Christian family is also negatively affected by the secular views of man, gender ideology, family and society.
Still, for most people, the family is the number one value in their lives. For us Christians, in particular, the family is a sacred reality, a domestic Church, a community of life and love, the main school of our values and virtues, of prayer. The Old Testament writers recommend the practice of the virtues of obedience, piety, respect, compassion. The Fourth Commandment Honor your father and mother asks us to respect our parents. To respect them means to revere them, to esteem them to love them, care for them all their lives, particularly when they are old.
For us, the Holy Family of Nazareth continues to be the icon and inspiration of our families. On the day of the Feast of the Holy Family we are asked to contemplate, venerate and imitate the Sacred Family of Nazareth: Jesus (called the son of a carpenter), Mary (the Mother of Jesus, the wife of Joseph and housekeeper) and Joseph (the carpenter of the town, Jesus custodian and head of the Holy Family).
I remember the wonderful meditation of Blessed Paul VI on his visit to Nazareth on January 5, 1964. The Pope told us then to continue learning the lessons of Nazareth. What lessons? Nazareth teaches us first on family life: its meaning, its beauty, its core which is communion in love. Nazareth teaches us, second on silence: on love of silence so an admirable and needed habit, particularly today when we are disturbed by so much noise, by so many different voices in the digital world. The silence of Nazareth teaches us on the need of recollection, of interior and peaceful space; on the need to listen to good teachers, to our parents and brothers and sisters and, above all, to God. Nazareth teaches us, in the third place on work and on the dignity of workers of all workers. The importance of work in our life (as in the life of Jesus and Mary and Joseph); its creative and redemptive dimension. We remember today the tragedy of unemployment and the terrible effects it causes in so many families!
Family is conjugal love, and parental and filial love. Its center is the children: we remember them here in this Eucharist with great love! We bring to our attention the vast number of children who are victims of violence, who are made objects of trade and trafficking, or forced to become soldiers and workers. We remember with sadness and hope infants killed in the womb, displaced, due to war and persecution. (Cf. Blessing Urbi et Orbi, December 25, 2014).
Bowing before the Crib we learn the lessons of genuine family life, silence and work. Above all, we learn the perennial lesson of love: we learn that we are loved and understood. After all, a house is where you live; a home, where they understand you.
A painter wanted to paint the most beautiful object in the world! He went to a big park to ask people: What is the most beautiful thing in the world for you? He asked a soldier: Nothing is more beautiful than peace: living together in peace! Then he asked a young couple: Love is the most beautiful thing: it makes the world go round. Then he asked a priest: Faith is the most beautiful thing: it moves mountains. The painter asked himself: How do I paint peace, and love, and faith? After a silent pause, he answered himself: I know what the most beautiful thing in the world is: my family, my home. It is here where I experience peace, love and faith. Jesus, God and man, found at Nazareth as a human being – peace, love and faith through the 30 years he lived at home with Mary and Joseph.
Indeed, the family, our family is the best thing in the world for each one of us. We thank God for the Holy Family, for our family. We offer this Eucharist for our families (for the members who have left us and those who remain with us), and also for broken families. We ask the Sacred Family of Nazareth to help us be ad become more good members of our respective families loving, caring, and sharing!
We give thanks to God for the unique, incomparable gift of family; of our family.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph, pray for us!