My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
Today, we continue our prayer during this Christmas season and I hope that you have been enjoying this time with your families and loved ones.
Christmas is a “family story,” as we all know. Christmas is the story of an expectant mother, Mary, and her husband, St. Joseph, and their little baby boy, Jesus.
This is the mystery we celebrate each year on the first Sunday after Christmas — the feast of the Holy Family.
Always with God it is the mystery of his divine humility. He is the Almighty and yet he shines his light in the world — the light of his peace and love and mercy — in the most humble and ordinary way.
The Second Person of the Holy Trinity comes to us as a Son, born of a woman. God wants to be born in the heart of a human family, family rooted in the love of a husband and a wife. What a beautiful mystery.
Everything that Jesus touches, he makes holy, he consecrates. So now marriage and the human family are holy and consecrated, because Jesus chose to be born and grow up in a human family.
We heard in the Gospel today:
He went down with them and came to Nazareth,
and was obedient to them.
This is another part of the mystery. All those years — in fact, most of his earthly life — Jesus was living in Nazareth with Mary and St. Joseph.
Our Lord’s life was “hidden” in Nazareth, where he was a good son, an ordinary child growing up in an ordinary home. And what we hear today in the Gospel is one of the few scenes that we see from that time. As we heard:
And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor
before God and man.
It is amazing to think of Jesus “learning.” What could the Son of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity need to learn? But this important to understand that he share in our humanity. He was like us in all things except for sin.
He loves us so much that he wants to experience the world through our eyes, through our hearts. It’s amazing. It’s beautiful.
He wanted to show us that the path of life, even beginning in childhood, is meant to be a way of holiness, a pathway to God.
So my dear brothers and sisters, family life is a mission. Being a good husband, a good wife, a good mother, a good father — it is a vocation. It is a beautiful calling from God.
And as we know, the Holy Family was not rich in the things of this world — Jesus was born in a stable, his first bed was a place where animals feed. But the Holy Family was rich in love. And we can be, too.
And Mary and Joseph show us the way. They received their child as beautiful gift from God and they loved him and cared for him with deep affection.
We know that Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple every year, and for sure they took him to the synagogue in Nazareth.
It was beautiful to hear in today’s Gospel how they followed the religious custom of going on a family pilgrimage each year to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.
The beautiful tradition! And Our Blessed Mother and St. Joseph followed the tradition just because they wanted to be faithful to that beautiful tradition.
So thinking of that, we see what is probably the most important duty you have as parents — teaching your children how to pray; taking them to church; teaching them how to love God and how to grow in virtue and how to seek God’s will. In a simple way.
It was beautiful to hear about it in today’s Gospel, and also it is beautiful to see that that’s what happening in a Catholic family.
Because, as we know, children learn more from our example than our words. They will learn about the joy of being a Catholic, the beauty of family life and marriage — all by watching you.
This is how Jesus learned from Mary and Joseph, by their example of faith and love.
So today let’s ask for that grace for all of us — that we are able with our example and witness — to communicate to the next generation the beauty of that relationship with God.
But we also see in this short passage from the Gospel, that Jesus was not a perfect child. In fact, as we heard, Mary and Joseph experienced the same anxieties that many of parents face with their children.
In the passage of the Gospel today, Jesus stays behind and they are really scared, and they are searching for him for three days before they find him in the Temple.
But finally they found him and, as we heard, Jesus tells his parents:
“Why were you looking for me?
Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
I think lesson for us is to help our children to understand that they have a Father in heaven. And that they are of God, as we hear in our second reading today — where those other beautiful words:
See what love the Father has bestowed on us
that we may be called the children of God.
And so we are.
Once again, my dear brothers and sisters, today we need to reflect on the fact that we are children of God. Yes, I am a son of God! Yes, I am a daughter of God!
Whatever it is that is so important for us, the fact that God is my Father. That he cares about me. That he loves me, no matter what.
So, it seems to me that this is truly the meaning of Christmas. God becomes a child of Mary so that each of us can be a child of God.
So, this week, as we continue in this beautiful season of Christmas, let us try to live with the love of the Holy Family — in our own families and in all our relationships.
I urge you, my dear brothers and sisters, be joyful in the way you live! Your children will want to follow you, they will want to learn from you and be like you.
It is such an important duty for all of us to always try to transmit the love of God for each one of us and how we can correspond in our daily life loving God and loving one another.
So let’s ask Mary our Blessed Mother and St. Joseph to help us to live every moment in the presence of Jesus and to love him as they did.
1. Readings: Sir. 3:2-6, 12-14; Ps 128:1-5; 1 John 3:1-2, 21-24; Luke 2:41-52.