“So Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel.”

-Matthew 2: 21

“Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.” (Colossians 3:12-13)

Today, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. The popular devotion to the Holy Family was founded in 1663 by a lay person Barbara d’Hillehoust and approved by Pope Leo XIII in 1893. It was inserted into the liturgical calendar in 1921 by the Congregation of Rites (under Pope Benedict XV) to present the Holy Family as a perfect model for all Catholic families to imitate their perfect and complete domestic virtues and to restore the true spirit of family life.

Who has been the model for your family?

Before you are a father, mother, son or a daughter. Who are you?

Before Joseph was a father, he was a child of God. St. Joseph was a just man with a tender and loving heart. He would do the right thing by God, even if it was not in accordance to cultural tradition. Upon realising Mary was with child that was not his, he had wanted to dismiss her quietly. He was merciful and did not follow the culture of his time to expose her to public shame. Being a man of great faith and paternal vigilance, he was tuned into the directions of God for his life. Joseph did as the angel commanded him and accepted his role as father and named the child Jesus. He heeded the warnings in his dreams. It was not his will that he followed, but the will of God. Joseph placed his trust in God with all his heart and leaned not on his own understandings. In all ways, Joseph submitted to God and God made his paths straight. (Proverbs 3: 5-6) Do you trust in God’s plan for your family?

Before Mary was the Mother of God, she was a child of God. She was an extraordinary model of love, submissiveness, obedience and faith. By faith, she accepted angel Gabriel’s message that she was to be the Mother of Jesus. With joy, she glorified God with her Magnificat. She trusted in Joseph and together with him, saved Jesus from Herod’s persecution. She treasured all things in her heart and lived her ordinary life with trials and pain and yet, full of grace and with a poverty of spirit. She lived it “sincerely, fulfilling its every consequence, but never amid fanfare, rather in the hidden and silent sacrifice of each day.” (St. Josemaria, Christ Is Passing By, #172) What were the sacrifices you made for your loved ones?

Christ Jesus, is one with the Father who is God and while a divine Son, was subject to his earthly parents. “That God should obey a woman is humility without equal.” (St Bernard of Clairvaux) Let that thought set in. Do you find it difficult to listen to your family members? Just as children reflect the ways of their parents, so did Jesus too reflect the character and virtues of his parents. He would follow them diligently to the Temple to pray and was formed in the faith and his relationship with God grew deeply. What is the character of your Family?

Pope Leo XIII has called all families to learn from the Holy Family, a life of simplicity in times of prosperity, to retain dignity in times of distress and the call to mind a higher esteem for moral wealth. (Breve Neminem Fugit) Domestic life cultivates the virtues we need for holiness – Virtues for self (temperance and courage) and virtues for communal life (justice, patience, kindness, forgiveness, learning respect for authority, learning to bear one’s share of life’s burdens). If the virtues are lived well, the family becomes a “manifestation of the Kingdom of God” – the domestic Church.

There is a strong family resemblance in God’s Family. (Theresa Donohoo, Children of God) Family, is a gift from God and is the domestic church – a place where the faith is shared, love is experienced and hurts are forgiven. Our families may not always mirror God’s Family. Some of our families may look perfect but are broken within. Some of us may have never felt parental love. Just as the Lord has forgiven us, so we are called to do the same to those who have failed us; with heartfelt compassion, bear with one another in our differences. This is specially for families whose beliefs differ, stay rooted in the bond of perfection that is love. (1 Corinthians: 13: 4-7) We are children of God and we have received Christ into our hearts at Christmas. Let us be rooted in our identity as children of God, in all things we place our faith in him who is all good and seek to imitate the holiness of his family. Have we truly emptied our hearts this Advent from worldly nonsense and filled it with Christ?

Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. They will be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit. (Jeremiah 17:7-8)

With the joy of the Lord,