Feast of the Holy Family 2014
Everything that God touches, he sanctifies, consecrates, glorifies and makes a means of communicating his life and presence. We saw this on the Feast of the Birth of Our Lord. When Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary and took on our human nature, He did not destroy our nature, but came with the intention of recreating it and making it capable of sharing life with God in a personal and intimate way that it could not do before. God is slowly but surely putting into place the path for our redemption and making us sharers in the Kingdom of God.
Today we give thanks for God’s touch on the most basic reality of human existence, the family. The Word of God desired to live in a human family and have a mother who gave him birth and foster-father who would love him, protect him and teach him. This is an amazing fact of how God desires to interact with us. To be a part of a family is a human thing. A family exists by nature in the sense that the Mother and Father become Co-creators with God in the gift of children, which is seen as the fruit of their love for one another. Human beings live by relationships. We need each other and depend on one another to live in the world. God has come to show us that the fundamental root of every human relationship is love.
When we look at the secular understanding of family, the virtue that is highlighted is justice. By the fact that they are parents, husbands and wives owe their children the necessities to survive and thrive in the world. Children, on the other hand, by justice, owe their parents respect, obedience and gratitude for all they have given them. If we remember that everything God touches he raises up to a higher level of life, what can we say about the Holy Family? When God is brought into the life of the family by the faith of the parents, Justice is raised to the level of Love, a duty becomes a privilege, a responsibility becomes a gift. This gift is given to be shared so that it will continue to grow and bear fruit.
God is showing us that the greatest vocation in the world is not a profession or a trade of some kind, but to be a Mother and a Father. There is nothing greater in the world for the building up of the Kingdom of God and the happiness of the human race than this. The Sacrament of Matrimony, the union of a man and woman in a permanent and unbreakable communion of love is a privileged place for meeting God. From this sacrament comes a reality that is like a sacrament, the Family. The Second Vatican Council referred to the family as the “domestic church,” because it is the first place where faith in Jesus Christ is acknowledged and passed on. Many Saints of the Church have said these words, a strong family produces a strong Church, and a Strong Church helps to form a strong family.
When we talk about family we often talk about having the same blood. But we know that there is something even greater than having the same blood, it is professing and living out the same faith. This is why we recognize in a special way those parents who have natural children, but also those who adopt children out of the abundance of their marital love that finds its roots in the love of Jesus Christ. The family itself is a place where faith in God and love is learned and practiced every day.
There are people today who do not see this way of life as either possible or healthy. There are attempts to change the meaning of “family.” There are also families that are so overwhelmed with the things of this world that they don’t take the time to care for and nourish their souls and the souls of their children. We have a choice to family life in one of two ways- with Jesus and (kinda) without Jesus. Family life (kinda) without Jesus is one that is run by constant motion and activity and obligations that turns families into a group of individuals, each with their own goal and way of life, little is held in common except the same address and last name.
Family life with Jesus is constant because it is rooted in daily prayer. It is unitive because everyone has the same goal and each one shares in helping others achieve it. Finally it is also sacrificial and reverent because the focus is on serving and loving each other. They learn to live for each other confident that God will always guide them through life’s challenges and make their moments of joy more lasting.
The Church has always been a staunch defender of the family because family life in Christ is impossible without the Sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and Penance. It is impossible without the love that the Holy Spirit pours out upon them in daily prayer and the security which comes with knowing the truth of the teaching of Jesus Christ. As our Mother, the Church daily offers every family the grace of Jesus Christ, which helps us overcome our sinful and selfish natures so that we can be for each other.
God has touched the family through Jesus, Mary and Joseph. He has given us not only the example but the grace to live it out. HE asks for our faith, hope and love of Him. May we pray every day: God our Father, help our family be holy. Help us live for one another and serve you in love and gratitude that we may one day know the fullness of joy in the heaven you have promised for us. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, make our family like unto yours.