Sunday, December 31, 2023
The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph—Feast
Sunday in the Octave of Christmas
When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, 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. Luke 2:39–40 (Gospel Year B)
Today we honor family life in general by pausing to ponder the particular and beautiful hidden life within the home of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. In many ways, their daily life together would have been very similar to other families at that time. But in other ways, their life together is entirely unique and provides us with a perfect model for all families.
By God’s providence and design, the family life of Jesus, Mary and Joseph was spoken of in the Scripture very little. We read of the birth of Jesus, the presentation in the Temple, the flight into Egypt and the finding of Jesus in the Temple at age twelve. But other than these stories of their life together, we know very little.
The line from today’s Gospel quoted above does, however, give us some insight worth pondering. First, we see that this family “fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord…” Though this is in reference to Jesus being presented in the Temple, it should also be understood to apply to all aspects of their life together. Family life, just like our individual lives, must be ordered by the laws of our Lord.
The primary law of the Lord regarding family life is that it must share in the very unity and “communion of love” found in the life of the Most Holy Trinity. Each person of the Holy Trinity has perfect respect for the other, gives selflessly to each other without reserve, and receives each person in their totality. It is their love that makes them one and enables them to act together in perfect harmony as a communion of divine Persons. Though Saint Joseph was not immaculate in his nature, the perfection of love did live in his divine Son and in his immaculate wife. This overwhelming gift of their perfect love would have daily drawn him into the perfection of their lives.
Ponder your own closest relationships today. If you are blessed with a close family, ponder them. If not, ponder the persons put into your life who you are called to love with familial love. Who are you to be there for in good times and in bad? Who are you to sacrifice your life for without reserve? Who are you to offer respect, compassion, time, energy, mercy, generosity and every other virtue? And how well do you fulfill this duty of love?
Reflect, today, upon the fact that God wants you to share in a communion of life, not only with the Most Holy Trinity but also with those around you, especially your family. Try to ponder the hidden life of Jesus, Mary and Joseph and seek to make their family relationship the model for how you love others. May their perfect communion of love be a model for us all.
Lord, draw me into the life, love and communion that You lived with Your Immaculate Mother and Saint Joseph. I offer You myself, my family and all those to whom I am called to love with a special love. May I imitate Your family love and life in all my relationships. Help me to know how to change and grow so that I may more fully share in Your family life. Jesus, I trust in You.
Saints and Feasts of the Liturgical Year
Saint of the Day – Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist
Not celebrated as a liturgical memorial this year since it falls on Sunday
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