My brothers and sisters,1
I hope that you’re enjoying this beautiful Christmas season with your families and loved ones. Even if it is a different one given the current situation — the challenge of the coronavirus pandemic.
And today, as we know, we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family.
And it is one of the beautiful things that we celebrate every year during this Christmas season.
As a matter of fact, I think the Christmas season is one great “family feast.” At the heart of the Christmas story is the holy family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. But we also know the story of our Lord’s coming into the world involves the story of St. John Baptist’s family, St. Elizabeth and her husband, Zechariah.
And today, in the first reading we hear another family story, the story of Abram and his wife, Sarah.
And it’s interesting, my brothers and sisters, when we read the sacred history in the pages of the Old Testament, we’re always amazed by how God unfolds his plan for the world, patiently and with love.
God prepared the Blessed Virgin Mary to bring his only Son into the world. But as we hear today, beginning even thousands of years before that, he was preparing the way for Jesus, with the miraculous birth of Isaac.
We also notice, when we reflect on the Word of God, that God our Father is always carrying out his plans through the lives of humble, ordinary people. In the eyes of the world, Abram and Sarah are not “special” or privileged people. Neither were Mary and Joseph.
In the passage of the Gospel today, we see Mary and Joseph simply following the law of the Lord in presenting their newborn Son, Jesus, in Temple at Jerusalem. And then the Gospel tells us very simply:
They returned to Galilee,
to their own town of Nazareth.
The Child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom;
and the favor of God was upon him.
And as we hear these words, we think about our own families. The simple duties of our own ordinary lives.
And I think this is one of the most beautiful mysteries of this holy season. To the world, the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph was just another family. It was such a typical family that when Jesus began his ministry, people were kind of skeptical. We remember what they said: “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother called Mary?”2
They were simple people, for everybody else. But even when they were simple, God called them to play an extraordinary part in his plan of salvation. My dear brothers and sisters, it is the same with each one of us.
And we do that — participating in God’s plan of salvation — by living our own faith, following the commands of God in our ordinary, daily lives, especially in our families.
It is, the obedience of faith. This is, my brothers and sisters, the secret of life. Simply trying to follow the will of God.
So today, let us especially ask for that grace, to understand that we are part of the plan of God’s for salvation and that it happens in our ordinary life — in our daily life.
As you know, Pope Francis has declared this to be the Year of St. Joseph. I’ve been reflecting on that, the Holy Father wrote a beautiful letter for the beginning of this Year of St. Joseph. I’ve been talking about it in different ways, including in my column in the Angelus News.3
And it is beautiful to reflect on how the Holy Father is calling us to look at the life of St. Joseph and to make him the model for our lives.
Because Joseph was a man of simple faith. As we hear in the Gospel today, he and Mary “fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord.”
This is the way St. Joseph and Mary lived. Just trying to follow God’s will. Like Mary, in every circumstance Joseph prayed and listened for the voice of God. He wanted to know God’s will — and he wanted to do it.
It is amazing that, Joseph is totally silent in the Gospels, there is not a single word of his in the Gospels. We hear only of his deeds: “Joseph … did as the angel of the Lord commanded him.”4
And this is, my dear brothers and sisters, how we should live. Praying and trying to do what God wants us to do in our responsibilities as children and parents, brothers and sisters, as friends and neighbors, coworkers.
Just trying to do what God wants us to do. And obviously we can do it better if we follow the example of Joseph and Mary — and making Jesus Christ the heart of our lives and our families. Doing everything for the love of Jesus.
There is a beautiful old prayer to St. Joseph that includes these beautiful lines. It says: “O Saint Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms. I dare not approach while he reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine head for me.”5
This was St. Joseph’s secret. He kept Jesus near to his heart. Always. So let’s try to do the same — to keep Jesus near to our heart and to love him with great affection and devotion. Just as St. Joseph did.
And as we enter into the new year, let us dedicate ourselves again to serving God’s plan of love in our families and society, following the example of Mary and Joseph, and all those holy men and women throughout salvation history.
I wish you and your families a blessed Christmas season! And let us ask the intercession of Mary our Blessed Mother and St. Joseph to renew our desire to do the will of God in our daily life.