My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
May the Peace of the Lord be with you.
Today in celebrating the Feast of the Holy Family, we have the opportunity to look at the life of Jesus, Mary and Joseph to see what lessons we can learn and hopefully put into practice in our own families. Many times we make the mistake of thinking that because Mary and Joseph were the parents of Jesus, the Son of God, that they must have had God’s direct intervention in their everyday life’s problems. Because we see them as “special,” our tendency is to tell ourselves that it is almost impossible to model our own family life after theirs. After all, what do they know about hard times?
Since the scriptures tell that Jesus was 100% human, as well as 100% Devine, He had to have had a normal human childhood and upbringing. The only intervention that God did was through the same ways that He gets involved in our lives. As a good Jewish couple, Mary and Joseph had a strong faith relationship with God. They had come to learn that when one places his or her life in the hands of God and strives to live a life that is truly directed by God’s Word, God does indeed manifest His love and concern in the everyday affairs of life.
This means that Jesus grew up in a home environment that was no different from other families of His time, and probably not much different from what we experience as a family. If Jesus was tempted in the same way that children are tempted and went through and faced the same life decisions that all teens and young adults face, then Mary and Joseph must have had the same worries that all parents have in caring for their children.
On this Feast of the Holy Family, we meditate on the way in which Mary and Joseph lived a life of faith and passed that faith on to their Son. I can only imagine that Joseph had to work hard at his carpenter’s trade to make enough money to care for his family. There were hard times as well as good times. There must have been days when business was slow as well as days when he had a lot of work.
Mary had the same responsibilities that any wife and mother would have. Knowing that her son was conceived by the Holy Spirit and was the Son of God must have given her some concern and caused her to worry a little about how she was raising her son.
It was the love that existed between Mary and Joseph that over flowed onto their Son. It was their faith that fortified them and gave them the strength to fulfill the special mission that God the Father placed on their shoulders. If fact, their lives were probably a little more difficult than any other family would be because they were well aware of the responsibility that Gold had given them.
On this Feast of the Holy Family, let us be resolved to grow in our relationship with God the Son; to ask St. Joseph to help all you husbands and fathers to be the best husbands and fathers that you can be; to ask Mary’s intercession for you wives and mothers in your responsibilities; and Jesus to help all children as they too grow in age, wisdom, and grace.
On Monday, January 1st, the Church celebrates the Feast of Mary, the Mother of God. This is the oldest title that has been given to Mary. It seems to me that it is most proper for us today to begin 2018 on this great Marian feast. It was through her, after all, that the Christian era came about. The early church certainly made her a part of its everyday life. She was present in the Upper Room when Jesus appeared to his apostles after the resurrection. She was the one that the apostles turned to for her input since they recognized her as the Mother of God. She has been with the Church since the beginning and is with the Church today. Let us turn to her now as we begin this New Year and ask her for her guidance so that 2014 will be a year of faith in which we grow closer to her son, Jesus, our Lord.
Mary’s life as the Mother of God was one that had its share of suffering, but in spite of the pain, suffering, and difficulties that life laid on her shoulders, she remained a woman of faith and never lost her trust in God. Can we say the same about ourselves when things do not go exactly the way we want them to go or hardship lands in our own backyard? Mary even became a model for us as Jesus leaves home to accomplish the mission that His Father in heaven had given Him. Just imagine the pain she must have felt when word would get back to her about how her son was mistreated. Many a sword would pierce her heart. What mother, or for that matter, what father, could bear the pain that Mary endured as she watched the soldiers nearly beat her son to death and the blood pour from His body and run down the street?
She must have felt every nail as it was hammered into His hands and feet. With each slam of the hammer, the sword went a little deeper into her heart. We can’t even imagine what Mary was thinking or feeling as she looked up to see her Son hanging on the cross gasping for air. I wonder if she ever doubted her “yes” as she endured the pain of her Son’s suffering? The answer is no! Her trust in God was absolute and so should ours be. What a model for us of one who accepted God’s will for her, even in pain.
We could not ask for a better model as we begin this New Year. I can guarantee that our faith will be put to the test in 2018. There will be pain caused by problems in relationships, or the death of a loved one, or a loss of a job, or difficulties with school, or medical problems, and the list goes on. But if we never lose our trust in God and keep Him close to us as Mary did, there is nothing that will happen to us in the New Year that we will not be able to handle. In fact, like Mary, we can turn our suffering into joy. So let us resolve on the beginning of a new year, that we keep Jesus in our hearts and never forget that the Mother of God is also our mother.
As you continue to celebrate the Feast of Christmas, may the Lord continue to bless you.
I love you.