Today the Christmas celebration continues with the feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph; and it is fitting that the Church celebrates this family. Christ of course is the focus of the Christmas celebration, but should not Mary’s and Joseph’s part not also be acknowledged? It was Mary that was obedient to the angel of God, and Joseph too listened to that angel. It was Joseph who led the Holy Family to Bethlehem, it was he who fled from Herod’s treachery. It was Mary who carried the Child, gave birth to the Savior, who nurtured and fed him. It was those parents that nurtured and guided the Christ Child in his infancy and youth. His family, like all families play a crucial role in life, and the Church does right by celebrating them. Families are the most basic structural element of society, with all members playing an important part. This feast day celebrates, not only the Holy Family, but all families.
Today though, there also should be that emphasis on this one particular Family, if only to examine it in more detail. What are some of the unique characteristics of this family, what can be learned from them? To start with Mary, she is that Mother of God that is always obedient to God. That is evident in the Annunciation when she receives the message from an angel. Angels too are an important part of the Holy Family, they are constantly listening to angels. What makes this family Holy is that relationship with their God. This family can be described particular by its attentiveness to angels. That attentiveness is not only limited to Mary and Joseph, but extends to their relatives Elizabeth and Zechariah.
Another part of this family is their relationship to their Son. From His conception, Jesus family recognize Him as special. They recognize that special and important role Jesus will play in salvation. Interesting is that this role is not only recognized by Mary and Joseph, but extends throughout their family. It is Elizabeth that says “Blessed art though, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.” Elizabeth recognizes Jesus as her salvation even before he was born. Her child John the Baptist also recognizes Jesus as Lord; he leaps in Elizabeth womb. Think too about those shepherds that listen to the angels again and go to pay homage to the newborn savior.Might they too be considered members of a now extended family? Then of course are those at the temple Simeon and Anna. Simeon proclaims:
Now, Master, You can dismiss your servant in peace;
You have fulfilled Your word.
For my eyes have witnessed Your saving deed displayed for all the peoples to see:
A revealing light to the Gentiles The glory of Your people Israel. [Lk. 2:29-32]
Both he and Anna, like Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, Zechariah, and those shepherds recognize the Christ Child as Gods salvation. That holy family grows as many do, that Holy Family is after all the nucleus of Christianity; and that is something worth celebrating!