Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. The feast of the Holy Family is the natural continuation of the Christmas Season. All the scripture readings of today reflect on aspects of family including the duties and blessings that come about as a result of the faithful living of family life. In the creation narrative of the Bible we read that God created man in his image and likeness and placed him in a family. To understand what a family is we must come to know the life of God in the Trinity which is a family. On this feast day the Church presents the Holy Family to us as a model for our own family life. Joseph was the head of the Holy Family and provided for Mary and Jesus with the work of his hands. He was obedient to the angel who told him to take Mary as his wife, what name the child should be given and again he was told to flee to Egypt with the family when there was a threat on their life.
Devotion to the Holy Family is a recent development, but one that naturally grew out of a love for Jesus and his family. The cult of the Holy Family grew in popularity in the 17th century, and several religious congregations had been founded under this title. The Holy Family also became portrayed in popular art of the period. Pope Leo XIII promoted the feast as a way to counter the breakdown of the family unit. Towards the end of the nineteenth century and at the beginning of twentieth, prompted the popes, especially the far-sighted Leo XIII, to promote the observance of this feast with the hope that it might instill into Christian families something of the faithful love and the devoted attachment that characterize the family of Nazareth. Mary, Joseph and Jesus model for us the life of the Holy Family. Joseph exhibited great trust in God and demonstrated intense devotion and love in caring for Mary and Jesus. Scripture does not quote a single word of Joseph, and yet his actions speak volumes of a strong man devoted to God and family. Mary, too, showed tremendous faith in God and trusted in God’s love for her. As wife, she helped Joseph in his quest for holiness. As mother, she cared for Jesus with great love and tenderness. Both Mary and Joseph created the environment which allowed Jesus to grow in wisdom and age and favour before God and man. Jesus, for his part, was obedient to Mary and Joseph and obviously loved them both very much.
The Feast of the Holy Family is not just about the Holy Family, but about our own families too. The main purpose of the Feast is to present the Holy Family as the model for all Christian families. Our family life becomes sanctified when we live the life of the Church within our homes. This is called the “domestic church” or the “church in miniature.” St. John Chrysostom urged all Christians to make each home a “family church,” and in doing so, we sanctify the family unit.BACK TO LIST