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The Catholic Defender: Feast of the Holy Family

"Let us now invoke together the protection of Mary Most Holy and of St. Joseph for every family, especially for those in difficulty. May they be supported so that they will be able to resist the disintegrating impulses of a certain contemporary culture which undermines the very basis of the family institution. May they may help Christian families throughout the world to be the living image of the love of God. "

Benedict XVI, Feast of the Holy Family 2006

The story of the Holy Family is full of encouragement for those who struggle in life, especially in their own family life. The events in the life of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus help us to see what is really important in life.

Their life demonstrated a listening to God, following God’s will even though that path would bring challenges. They remind us that wealth is found within our relationships and in how we relate to each other in our own family life and not determined by what we have materially.

The United States Bishops’ document, A Family Perspective in Church and Society, describes family life as, “the basic community of believers, bound in love to one another.” The family is a place where we are committed in love to one another, even in the midst of the struggles and challenges of life. By making Jesus the center of daily life, the family creates an intimate community of love.

A family’s path to holiness is built on love. Families are called to live each day centered on God by showing love, respect, and compassion for each member.

In this way, the family becomes stronger in their love for God and for one another. Together, the family learns to give thanks, to share love, and to always be there for each other. As the family grows and becomes a community of love and sharing, it becomes a witness of God’s love to all people of the world.

May today’s feast remind us, too, that we belong to the universal family of God’s love.

Remember that men, women, and children living in shelters or on the street are part of our family. Women and children who are emotionally and physically imprisoned as a result of human trafficking are part of our family. Individuals struggling with addiction and living in fear and isolation are part of our family. The thousands of refugees who have left their homelands to escape poverty and violence are part of our family. As a new year approaches, let us allow the Holy Family to embrace us. May the Holy Family of Nazareth inspire and encourage us to live and show Jesus’ love and mercy wherever we find ourselves in the coming year. Be a witness of the Holy Family, not only in your own family, but in your community, in your city, and in the world.

1. Every marriage intends children. Although Mary and Joseph were not united in a carnal way, their marriage is a true marriage: an indissoluble, exclusive union, wholly subordinated to the child. Mary and Joseph are united only in order to bring Jesus into the world, to protect and raise him. They have only one child, but he contains the whole of mankind, even as Isaac, an only child, fulfilled the promise made to Abraham of a countless progeny.

2. The purpose of every marriage is to establish a Christian family. The Holy Family observed the religious laws of Israel; it went in pilgrimage to Jerusalem every year with other Jewish families (Lk. 2:41). Jesus saddens and amazes his father and his mother because to their will and company he prefers "to be in his Father's house". Thus it may happen that God's will obliges the family to make disconcerting sacrifices. Yet every Christian family must live in harmony and in prayer, which are the pledges of joy and union.

3. "He remained obedient to them." Jesus was God. And through the fullness of grace Mary stood above Joseph. Nevertheless — if we except the event in the Temple — Joseph remained the head of the family; he took the initiative (as when the Holy Family fled to Egypt), and in Nazareth Jesus obeyed his parents.

Excerpted from Bread and the Word, A.M. Roguet


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