“Happy Feast of the Holy Family!” Probably something you don’t hear much outside of the closest Catholic circles. However, I love the fact that our church calls us back to what is important during this time of celebration in the Christmas season. It’s not about the presents, the parties, or even the decorations that say “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” – it’s about family. God just didn’t place Jesus as a man in the world to start His ministry as a stranger strolling through town, but rather He used the model of family to raise Jesus. He knew how important an example it would be for us to be able to relate to a Savior who went through all the same dynamics we do, day in and day out. Family is one thing so many people with loving relatives take for granted, while others who have been abandoned long for a closer relationship with a parent who will care for them.
In our youth, we sometimes have the tendency to look beyond our blessings, but it’s why there is so much beauty in today’s message and Gospel. The love and protection of family can only be appreciated as we look back at life’s situations where our ancestors sacrificed to help us become who we are called to be. Unfortunately, our society has lost some of the importance on the value family can bring to each of us. Today is a chance to once again recommit ourselves to those who journey closest with us. In Matthew’s gospel, Joseph is once again being asked to surrender over his decision-making completely to God for the benefit of his family. He will lead his family on two very long treks across many miles to make sure they are safe. Joseph is attentive and listening to the Lord, following His lead as he did since the angel told him to take Mary into his home. I am sure Mary and baby Jesus would have had to really question why Joseph was leading them all over creation; but they had one undeniable thing going for them: trust. Together, they knew that if God led them to it, He would carry them through it. Despite his own free will, Joseph’s openness to the angel was to protect his family while doing God’s will. This is what family is supposed to be.
From experience, I can tell you how much building a family takes work, a work which never ceases. It is about trusting and being open to what is best in God’s eyes for everyone involved and not just what we want. For example, have you ever had a moment where you wanted to do something so badly with your friends and a parent told you, “no”? Okay, well here’s a secret… as parents, sometimes we say “NO” and we are not even sure why! All we know is, there is an undeniable feeling in the pit of our stomach that says, “You cannot let that child go.” In the end, it might be saving our children from a bad situation of a life and death matter, or simply a moment where they would have made a choice outside of the person they are striving to be. As the head of our family, our role as a parent is to protect and nurture by doing what is best for those we love. God did not create this Earth for us to be alone, but He gave us family to lead us home. Enjoy the beauty of your family, whether they are blood relatives or not; love those who answer the call. We know family is not always defined by title, but by caring and action. In the image of the Holy Family, say “yes” to being attentive to what God is calling you into, always looking out for those entrusted to your care. Additionally, pray for all those in this world who say “yes” to being strong, faithful, steadfast and loving, just as Joseph was for Mary and Jesus. Once again, Happy Feast of the Holy Family — Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.