Hello everyone. Today, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family; and we are given an opportunity to reflect on the sanctity of marriage and life. The family, rooted in a faithful Christian marriage is the earthly manifestation of the Love of the Holy Trinity. The Love with which the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit – have for each other is mirrored to us on earth in the way a husband, wife and children love each other in a family. The earthly family, rooted in holiness, is but a poor example of the profound Mystery of the Holy Trinity; still it is a tangible model which all people, regardless of how advanced they are in Faith, can grasp and understand. How beautiful! How Excellent! God has been so good in giving us this “tangible model” of His Divine Love, the Mystery of the Holy Trinity, and today we have an unprecedented opportunity to ponder this Mystery.
We also reflect on the Holy Family: Jesus, Mary and Joseph – who truly understood this Mystery and lived their lives deeply rooted in prayer and holiness. The Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, her most Chaste Spouse, loved each other with a love which most resembled the Love present in the Holy Trinity. Indeed, through the over-shadowing of the Holy Spirit, Blessed Mary bore Love Himself, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity: Jesus Christ. On this Feast of the Holy Family, let us strive to imitate the Holy Family in bringing Love – Jesus Christ – into the world through our family prayers and actions.
There is a proverb which states that: “love is made perfect through suffering.” And St. John of the Cross O.C.D. says: “He who seeks not the Cross of Christ, seeks not the glory of Christ.” As we reflect on the Holy Family, we can see the exemplary model of family love, made perfect through suffering. Jesus Christ came into this world, to bring us salvation and redemption. His mother and most perfect disciple, Mary, and her most chaste spouse, St. Joseph, followed Jesus selflessly, from Bethlehem to Calvary – from the manger to the Cross. They did so willingly, even when the Divine Plan did not seem reasonable or make sense.
Something which struck me most profoundly this Christmas, is the sacrificial love (“suffering”) that follows the Divine Birth on Christmas. Just look back on this week. On December 26, the day after Christmas Day, we celebrate the Feast of St. Stephen, the First Martyr. This deacon of the Early Church was the first to give his life for Christ, in the persecution of the early Christians. The next day, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Innocents. These sinless babes were slaughtered by evil King Herod in his hopes of destroying the Christ Child – the true King of the Jews, the True King of the World. Yesterday, December 28, we celebrated the Feast of St. Thomas Becket, Bishop of Canterbury, who gave his life for the defense of the rights of the Church against Henry II, King of England. Finally, today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family whom, as I have demonstrated above, were the “exemplary model of family love, made perfect through suffering.”
As I have pondered throughout the week this “paradox” – the joyous birth of Christ on Christmas followed immediately by the bloody martyrdom of so many, I have come to two conclusions. The first: Jesus is telling us that “being a faithful Christian is no piece of cake and living according to His teachings is certainly not ‘cool’ in the eyes of the world.” If we hold fast to Our Lord and the teachings of His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, we will be persecuted. He even promised us this persecution in John 16: 33b, but this verse of Sacred Scripture also gives us His promise of consolation:
“In the world you shall have distress: but have confidence, I have overcome the world.” (John 16: 33b)
The second conclusion to which I have come is that “Jesus lives and earthly death is not the ultimate end.” This is made clear through the heroic example of the martyrdoms of St. Stephen and St. Thomas Becket. If earthly death was the ultimate end and there was no Eternal Life to follow, these men were absolute lunatics. If this is really our “one life to live” it would be insane to voluntarily give it up. Yet, it is not. Our Lord lives and He has created us to know, love and serve Him and be happy with Him in Heave forever.
From the cradle to the Cross, no one understood this paradox better than the Holy Family. Life was no “piece of cake,”and they were certainly not the “cool” family; they suffered much yet they still held fast to Our Lord. The Holy Family truly made manifest the Love of God and allowed Jesus Christ, Incarnate of the Virgin Mary, to bring to the world through them His joy and peace. May the same be said of our families.