The Sunday within the Octave of the Nativity of the Lord – usually, the first Sunday after Christmas – is the Feast of the Holy Family: Jesus, Mary and Joseph. This Family of Nazareth serves as a model for all Christian families. Every family is called to become a domestic Church, a community, bonded by mutual and reciprocal love.
On January 5, 1964, at the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, Pope Paul VI, spoke about the Holy Family: “May Nazareth teach us the meaning of family life, its harmony of love, its simplicity and austere beauty, its sacred and inviolable character; may it teach us how sweet and irreplaceable is its training, how fundamental and incomparable its role on the social plane.” Then the Pope added: “May Nazareth serve as a model of what the family should be. May it show us the family’s holy and enduring character and exemplifying its basic function in society: a community of love and sharing, beautiful for the problems it poses and the rewards it brings; in sum, the perfect setting for rearing children—and for this there is no substitute.”
The liturgy of the Word on this year’s feast focuses almost entirely on the family. In the Gospel according to St. Luke, we see the Virgin Mary as the one who, by her love and example, becomes a model of life for her Son, Jesus. She finds support in her loving husband, St. Joseph, the guardian of the Son of God. He is also her guardian and protector, obedient to the will and Word of God revealed to him.
The Feast of the Holy Family places the family in the centre of attention: the human family and God’s family. The Holy Family of Nazareth is a reflection of the Heavenly Family, the Holy Trinity. Every family, father and mother, out of whose love new life is born, has its origin in the Holy Trinity. Jesus Christ, true God and true man, who was born from Mary and whom St. Joseph has taken care of, has opened the way to heaven and has given us a place in the family of Heaven, to which we are all called.
The Church is our family of believers. In the Church, we learn the life of community with its joys and difficulties. In the Church that we learn how to celebrate and rejoice, how to relate to each other, grow in humility, ask for forgiveness, and how to love in the image of the Holy Trinity and the Holy Family of Nazareth.
Provided by Fr. Tomasz Skibinski, Director of Office for Formation for Discipleship, Formation for Discipleship at the Archdiocese of Toronto.