The Holy Family Is A School For Us
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
“When they had performed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. And the Child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom: and the favor of God was upon him (Luke 2:39-40).” On this feast of the Holy Family we can see how the plan of God makes use of a simple and poor family to bring about our salvation. It is touching how many years Jesus spent as a normal child in Nazareth, not doing anything extraordinary. He, Joseph and Mary lived obedient to the law and worked as ordinary people do.
It is good for us to think about God’s choice to carry out our redemption through a simple family; it speaks volumes for us. Especially at a time when the family is in such a crisis and is so poorly understood by the world and the culture.
In the Holy Family we see a perfect model for all families. Blessed Pope Paul VI said, “Nazareth is the school where we begin to get to know his Gospel. Here we learn to observe, to listen, to meditate, to penetrate the mysterious depths of this simple, humble and charming manifestation of the Son of God among men. Here we learn too, perhaps without realizing it, how to imitate that life.”
Mary and Joseph submit to the Law and go to the Temple forty days after the birth of Jesus to be purified. The mother had to be made clean and offer a sacrifice to God. In this case Mary and Joseph offer two pigeons, since they could not afford a lamb. Mary was sprinkled with the blood of a pigeon; the one who would usher in purification for all humankind submits to the Law and is presented and purified in the Temple today. Jesus is also presented in the Temple and is not “redeemed” as the first born son was for any Jewish family. St. Luke writes it this way since how can the Savior be redeemed, or bought back. He is presented and belongs entirely to God, his father.
Simeon is prompted by the Holy Spirit to go to the Temple at the same time. It was promised to him by the same Spirit that he would not die until he saw the Messiah. He held the child in his arms and blessing God he makes this beautiful prayer of thanksgiving for having seen the one who will bring salvation to his people and all the nations. This same child will be a light even for the gentiles and will bring glory to Israel. However, the prophesy of Simeon includes the sorrow that will pierce Mary’s soul. She will bear the sorrow for her race with her Son.
Mary teaches us com-passion, how “to suffer with” someone, which is fundamental for a Christian family. A parent has to suffer with her children and later in life a son or daughter suffers in caring for the elderly. This is not heavy but is beautiful and is a sign of love to those around us. In the time of Jesus the pagans were those who could not bear the sufferings of others; this was how they were identified.
Let us continue to contemplate the wonders of God as he makes himself known to us through the Child, Jesus. There is much we can learn before the manger, the crib that hopefully we have set up in our own homes. With the children and the family God invites you to spend time in front the manger during these days of Christmas.
I wish you and your whole family a wonderful Christmas Season and a joy-filled New Year.