Many issues have begun to undermine the mean¬ing of marriage and to question its purpose. Young people who save themselves for marriage are laughed at. A married man or a married woman who does not flirt with the opposite sex or “have a fling” is considered boring. The institution of marriage, be it Christian or non-Christian is facing a real threat like never before. Today is the feast of the Holy Family. We look at the Holy Family as an answer to the challenges we face, and as a model for our own families.
St. Joseph, the head of the Holy Family is known as the Guardian of the virgins, Patron of the Universal Church and the terror of demons. Interestingly, for such a powerful figure, not a single word he had spoken is recorded in the Bible. In fact, the actions of St. Joseph to this day speak louder than words. We first read about him in the Bible, in the lineage of the Lord Jesus, that links him to the line of David then as the betrothed of the Blessed Mother. He changes his plans of a secret divorce, and accepts her in marriage in submission to the leading of God. Then we read about him fleeing to Egypt with his young family to protect the child Jesus from the violence of King Herod.
St Joseph played a vital part in God’s plan for the Messiah to enter the world. He took on the responsibility of protecting the Blessed Mother and the child Jesus at a time when they were vulnerable and helpless. As he cooperated with the plan of God, he received divine assistance for his mission.
The Blessed Mother, who is known as the New Arc of the New Cov¬enant, was raised as a temple virgin dedicated to God from birth. She was a young Jewish girl, probably a teenager, when the Angel told her that she was chosen to be the mother of the Messiah. The news confused her but unlike any other teenage girl in her situation; she had the wisdom to submit to God’s great plan completely. “I am the handmaid of God, let it be done unto me according to His word”. She placed herself in the hands of God and she was at complete peace.
She knew she would have to face St Joseph, her parents, her com¬munity, and she had no answers for them. All she knew and perfectly understood was that she is the handmaid of God, and He will fulfil His purpose through her life. God in turn moved heaven and earth and she too received divine assistance for her part of the mission.
Both St. Joseph and the Blessed Mother teach us what a Holy Family really is. It is a family that gives their lives, shifts their dreams and plans for the mission of God. Through the life of St. Joseph, we see that when the father is God-centred, his family comes under God’s protection and leading. The Blessed Mother teaches us that when a mother puts God first in the decisions she makes every day, God fulfills His purpose in that family. St Joseph and the Blessed Mother show us that we become a Holy Family by living for the purpose of God in the day to day events of our lives by praying, seeking and do¬ing God’s will. An ordinary family becomes a Holy Family when they have the Lord Jesus as the center of their lives and their relationship with each other.
In today’s Gospel proclamation we read about the Presentation of the Lord Jesus in the Temple. Simeon the Prophet acknowledges the child Jesus as the Messiah, the salvation of Israel. By this time, the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph already knew they were not raising an ordinary child. On the day of the Presentation in the Temple, they received a prophecy, which they probably did not expect. Simeon told the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph, “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”The Scriptures say nothing about how the Blessed Mother handled the prophecy that day. Instead, we see at the foot of the cross how she dealt with the sword that pierced her heart.
The Holy Family teaches us how to raise children. In fact, little is written about the life of the Lord Jesus’ childhood. To me, it speaks volumes. Most probably He lived a quiet life, away from all the dis¬tractions, learning from His parents who were champions in living in the mission of God. We are called as parents to first of all live in the mission of God, and then teach our children in the day to day events to live for a purpose bigger than themselves.
Prayer: Abba Father, I bring my family before you. Give us the wisdom to live our lives and mission centred on you. Amen.