Summary: Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph: Don't Lose Your Footing

Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph:

Our First Reading says, “a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons.”

I read recently a humorous story about a young man who on his graduation from high school was chosen to give the commencement speech. He began by reading from his prepared text. 'I want to talk about my mother and the wonderful influence she has had on my life,' he told the audience. 'She is a shining example of parenthood, and I love her more than words could ever do justice.'

At this point he seemed to struggle for words. After a pause, he looked up with a sly grin and said, 'Sorry, but it's really hard to read my mother's handwriting.'

I DON’T KNOW what a perfect first-century family looked like, but I’m certain that Joseph and Mary didn’t fit the ideal. Joseph had no money. He had no safe place for his wife to give birth and no plausible explanation for her pregnancy. Their family was turned upside down before it even began.

It’s no coincidence that Christ was born into a shaky, uncertain family situation. God goes places where he’s needed. When society is in chaos, as it always is, faithfulness rises above the fragmentation and builds footings on whatever ground it touches.

Today, on the Feast of the Holy Family, we walk on holy ground as we contemplate family life.

1). First, it can seem awkward to find your footing when talking about marriage.

Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, California, preached that "the Church remains a firm advocate of marriage between a man and a woman as the foundation of the family. Mother, father and children in a loving, respectful family setting are what we promote as the will of God. But the will of God does not rest just in the ideal…. we likewise find the grace of God at work in… the single parent, and the family blended from situations of divorce.’’

Our First Readings says, “God sets a father in honor over his children.”

The apparition at Fatima on Oct. 13, 1917, is the only approved apparition in 2,000 years in which the entire Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph appeared at the same time. The three little shepherd children saw Our Lady with St. Joseph and the Child Jesus, and both Jesus and St. Joseph were blessing the world.

In her last book, Sister Lucia wrote: “In times such as the present, when the family often seems misunderstood in the form in which it was established by God,… surely God wished to address to us a reminder of the purpose for which he established the family [through the fatherly blessing of Joseph and in the blessing of Jesus as Savior.”

2). Praying the Rosary together provides solid footing for a family-

The other day I saw a mother going down the street with her little child. For a few steps the little fellow walked alone, but he soon came to a cross walk. He then reached up and the mother took his hand and he went forward in safety and without fear.

The rosary said in the family has a way of softening hardships and bringing a good measure of peace in the home through the hearts of all who partake.

3). Showing honor amongst family members is sure footing for family life—

A mother was helping her young son with a spelling test. Mom asked her son, “Do you know the difference between ‘conscious’ and ‘conscience”? The boy said, “My teacher says ‘conscious’ is when you’re aware of something. But ‘conscience’ is when you wish you weren’t aware of it!”

In the First Reading from the Book of Sirach, there is special emphasis on the importance of honoring one’s parents, which should extend into adulthood. Kindness to aged parents counterbalances one’s earlier sins, and the rewards of joy (3:5), long-life (3:6), and blessing (3:8-9) are traditional biblical blessings in other books of the bible and is also mentioned in conjunction with keeping the Ten Commandments. A point of emphasis is that one’s treatment of parents is, at a deeper level, also an action toward God.

e.g. In our Gospel text today, after three days, during a time of great anxiety, Mary and Joseph find Jesus in the temple. They are relieved to discover that he is fine, but they are distressed at what he has put them through!

Jesus then instructs them on how their parental role must be subordinate to the will of his divine Father. His parents do have an important part to play in his mission, as indicated when Jesus submits himself to their leadership and honors them with the faithful obedience of a son.

For reflection: Have I ever adjusted my behavior when I released the grief I was causing others? What changes did I make?

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