By Fr. Rich, O.P.
Let’s chat about the Holy Family.
We begin with Mary’s “YES!” to an angel, despite her virginity, her misgivings, and her fears. She knew in her acceptance she might possibly be shunned, perhaps disowned by her family and community. But from her birth, she had been preparing for this moment.
Joseph’s “YES!” is made in response to the same angel and made despite his fears and his righteousness. His love and trust of Yahweh and his love for Mary, his betrothed, brought him to accept her and her Child, Emmanuel, God-is-with-us.
The Christ; we’ve just celebrated the singular moment in human history in which the Son of God took on human flesh as an infant. Born of a Virgin and protected by Joseph, Jesus began his journey enfolded in the love of two who answered “YES!” in support and furtherance of God’s redemptive plan.
Let’s fast forward through the millennia. Some things have not changed; a “YES!” is still fundamental to the creation of a family. Commitment, love, sacrifice, raising and protecting children, and mutual support are just some of the characteristics of today’s family. Our Church, clearly investing in the structure and support of families, has an operational definition grounded in doctrine and scripture. It has, and will, stand the test of time.
At the same time, as we honor and bless that model, we are challenged to minister to those outside that model. They, too, need compassion, blessings, and prayers. Jesus did not withhold grace to those most in need, nor should we. Our world is a complicated, chaotic universe. There is no end to the sadness, the emotional and physical pain, and the despair that ministers are called to respond to.
Families, even under attack, remain the cornerstone of our culture. In celebrating this feast of the Holy Family, we are called back to that fundamental truth: Emmanuel, God-is-with-us, chose the family as His entry into our history. Whatever your family history, be they scoundrels or saints, villains or heroes, it is the family that ultimately forms and directs us, for better or worse.
We honor Mary and Joseph and their “YES!” that became the Holy Family, their sacrifice made in order to raise and protect this infant, this Son of God. We are called to acknowledge the role that our families have played in our own formation. For better or for ill, we are, in part, what our families have helped us to become. Today’s feast calls us to decide how we want the future of our world to look. Do we want a world, grounded in respect for the family and all that means?
Pray for our families. Pray for broken families and blended families. Pray for childless families. Pray for single parent families; pray for parentless families. The presence of the Son of God blest all families.
Celebrate your family. Celebrate your faith family. Celebrate God’s presence in your life and in our world.
Let the Church say, “YES!”