The feast of the Holy Family, the family of Jesus, is celebrated on the first Sunday after Christmas day; December 29, this year.
One of the most striking things about Jesus’ family is how little we know about it. We hear about the birth of Jesus in only two of the four gospels. We hear that he was presented to the Lord in Jerusalem as were all first-born Jewish boys. Then we hear about him settling in Nazareth with Mary and Joseph.
Then there is silence – twelve years of silence until we hear about Jesus getting separated from his parents during the feast of Passover. Then, again, there is silence – eighteen to twenty years of silence.
The Holy Family, like most families, is silent to the world. No one hears about the billions of acts of kindness and love that happen in families all over the world every day. These are holy acts inspired by God that never make the headlines. No society can be strong unless families are given the privacy and space they need to teach the ways of love – ways of love that eventually spill out into society just like the love that Jesus learned from his family.
Like all humans, Jesus had to learn the ways of love in the hidden environment of ordinary family life. Only after he was firmly rooted in family love was he prepared to take the love of God to the world in a public way. Family members are called to love and sacrifice parts of their lives for each other regularly and that is what makes a holy family; ordinary people sharing extraordinary love. May you and your family have a blessed Christmas and celebrate the love of family!
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