The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph
Book of Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14 or Book of Genesis 15:1-6; 21:1-3
Psalm 128 or Psalm 105; Colossians 3:12-21 or Hebrews 11:8, 11-12, 17-19
Luke 2:22-40 or Luke 2:22, 39-40
The Holy Family of Nazareth, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph are put before us by the Church this weekend as a model for our own families. However, we call them “The Holy Family”; however, this great title does not mean that they did not have family problems. Just as every family has to face issues and overcome them or put another way—has to carry a cross, so did the Holy Family. Many of their “crosses” come to mind through Scripture.
We can easily imagine how misunderstood Mary and Joseph must have been when Mary conceived Jesus through the Holy Spirit. Their story would never be believed. Mary’s pregnancy was made difficult when Joseph was planning to divorce her before the angel intervened in a dream. At this point, their story really begins. Jesus’ birth took place in an animal’s shelter since Bethlehem was already so crowded that there was no room for them indoors. Then the family had to flee to Egypt as refugees because Jesus’ life was in danger due to King Herod’s jealousy. Incredibly today, all around the world, many people are fleeing as refugees from war torn countries or are avoiding religious persecution.
Mary and Joseph suffered the awful experience of losing Jesus for three days when He was twelve years old, and the only satisfaction they received from Him was that “He had to be about His Father’s business.”
At this point, we do not hear of Joseph again, so we can presume that before Jesus began His public ministry in Galilee, this wonderful and beloved foster father and husband of Mary had died. The Holy Family suffering the greatest pain of all families, the pain of bereavement, and separation through death.
Jesus’ public ministry must have taken its toll on Mary. Simeon had predicted in the Temple that a sword of sorrow would pierce her soul. We can imagine one such occasion as we read in Mark 3:21 that when Jesus returned to Nazareth one day, His relative came to take Him by force, convinced that He was, well, crazy. Not a very pleasant experience for a family, no matter how holy they are. Jesus never returned home again. There was growing hostility toward Jesus by the Jewish authorities that must have caused huge pain for Mary as it became increasingly obvious that her Son would have to pay for His mission on earth by dying for us.
The saddest moment of all came when Mary watched as Her Son died on the cross.
What then was it that kept the Holy Family together and sane throughout all of these trials and crosses? The answer is, love for God, love for each other, and love for themselves. We can see Jesus’ love for His mother when He was dying on the cross and was worried about leaving her behind. He was so concerned that He asked His friend and disciple John to look after her, saying to Mary, “Woman behold your son, and to John, Behold your Mother.”
What holds families together in times of difficulty is love and forgiveness. It is love that always triumphs in the end, even if love may have to take the form of some honest and open dialogue for a while. Just as the Holy Family survived all crises through their love for each other, let us pray during this great day that our families will conquer all difficulties through their love for each other and their faith in God.
Questions of the Day: How will you use your faith in God to support your family through difficulties and crises? Are you able to forgive and reconcile?
Prayer: “O God, who was pleased to give us the shining example of the Holy Family, graciously grant that we may imitate them in practicing the virtues of family life and in the bonds of charity, and so, in the joy of your house, delight one day in eternal rewards. Amen.” (Collect for Sunday, December 27, 2020)