The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

Today, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. In the American competitive attitude, we are tempted to look at the Holy Family as an ideal we can not realize in our families. But, Jesus, Mary and Joseph had their share of struggles. The trust which is fundamental to a marriage was challenged by the pregnancy. Joseph must have felt terrible when he had to bring his wife to a stable to have the child. Living in a foreign land, Egypt, away from family and traditions, was far from ideal. Still, the Holy Family made it through the difficulties of their family life for one reason only: they had great faith. Joseph had faith in the angel of his dreams and treated the pregnant Mary in an honorable way. He had faith that God would help him protect the child, and he moved the family to Egypt. Mary had faith both in the angel and in God's working through Joseph. Jesus, having emptied himself of his divinity, had faith in his parents to care for him[1].

The Holy Family conquered their struggles through their faith-life. This must be the primary concern of our families.

Today’s Gospel is acted out almost every Sunday here at St. Matthew. Mary and Joseph went to the temple holding Jesus. Simeon and Anna made a fuss. This happens here also. Just about every week one of our couples come in to the church holding their newborn child. There joy is indescribable. “Look who we have with us,” they say before they ever open their mouths. I make believe I’m surprised even though I may have seen the expectant Mom every week. I love seeing the babies, and I enjoy making a fuss. And I love seeing the huge change in the parents who present their first child. One young couple told me something that I know all of you realized when he came home from the hospital with that first child. They said, “You know, we can’t come and go and do the things we did before we had the baby, but we have so much more now. Life was great before, but much better now.”

I love seeing how much you love your children. I love the fact that you all are determined to provide the best for your children.

Let me remind you, to be the best parents you can be, remain grounded in the Lord. Make prayer a part of your home life. Pray with your children at bedtime and pray for them after they fall asleep. Teach your children respect. Let them witness your respect for them, for each other, and for others and demand that they respect others, including you.

Do your best, and trust God to do the rest.

May all our families be Holy Families ■

[1] Sunday 28th December, 2008, Holy Family. Readings: Genesis 15:1-6; 21:1-3. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever—Ps 104(105):1-6, 8-9. Hebrews 11:8, 11-12, 17-19. Luke 2:22-40 [Holy Innocents].
Ilustration: The work of the Dortmund painter Konrad von Soest should be seen in the context of early Cologne painting. This panel from the Wildung Altarpiece, which is dated 1403 and signed on the reverse side with "per conradem pictorem de suato" (by Konrad of Soest, painter), owe their effects to their detail and gently flowing style. The colour contrasts are surprising, with bright gold and yellows as well as deep blues and reds enlivening the scenes. Konrad's Nativity is a successful genre scene, showing Joseph on his knees, his cheeks puffed out as he blows on the fire. As we can see from his face, the world portrayed here is that of the earthy and blunt peasant - people and objects from everyday life provided religious painting with a range of pictorial effects and subjects.

Konrad von Soest, Nativity (1403), Mixed media on wood, 73 x 56 cm, Parish church, Bad Wildungen.

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris