The Holy Family: An Inspiration to Your Own Family Life

A family established upon Divine Law will never turn away from God. Blessings and divine graces hover over it.

Newsdesk (31/12/2022 6:40 PM, Gaudium Press) After Christmas, the Holy Church reserves a specific day for celebrating the Holy Family, inviting us to reflect on the value and true meaning of the institution of the family in general.

It is the heart, the very foundation of society, and if today we are witnessing a tremendous moral crisis in humanity, this is due, to a great degree, to the breakdown of the family. When the family is broken, the rest of society can not be sustained.

We read in Genesis that after creating man and woman, God blessed them and said to them: “Be fruitful and multiply” (Gen 1:28). Man and woman: this was the first family, formed by divine hands. This union is so suited to human nature that in the Old Testament celibacy was not understood, since it was almost tantamount to “committing homicide, to diminishing the divine likeness in the world,”[1] except in the case of very special vocations, such as that of St. Elijah. Not having children and dying without descendants was considered a sign of punishment and a curse.

Already in the New Testament, Our Lord Jesus Christ inaugurated a new state of life, religious celibacy, of which He Himself is the sublime archetype. Also St John the Baptist, the man who unveiled the Old Testament and pointed to the New, did not marry. However, once the Church had been founded, there had to be a clearer and more solid notion of the sacredness of the family, and it was of enormous benefit that there should be, alongside the family, those who consecrated themselves entirely to God through the practice of perfect chastity. In this way man’s tendency to satisfy his own selfishness, to turn his attention to what is material and sensible, and to forget God, was counteracted.

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The Purpose of the Family

Since God’s design for the majority of people is that a man should be united to a woman in marriage in order to form a home, the vocation to celibacy is an exception to the pattern of nature. However, at the coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the family itself acquired a supernatural character through the elevation of the marriage union, a natural contract between a man and a woman, to the rank of Sacrament, symbolized in the mysterious and indissoluble union between Christ and His Church. This contradicts the erroneous idea, in vogue today, that the family does not have a religious purpose but only a social or affective one.

St Paul, in the second reading of the liturgy for the Feast of the Holy Family, insists on mutual love – a concept currently so misrepresented – as a new development brought by our Lord Jesus Christ:

“As the Lord has forgiven us, so forgive us. But above all, love one another, for love is the bond of perfection” (Col 3:12-14).

Within the family life, there must be an intense love between husband and wife, neither sentimental nor romantic, arising from love for God and aiming above all at the sanctification of the other spouse and consequently of the whole family.

For its part, the Responsorial Psalm underlines another family duty:

“Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in His ways!” (cf. Ps 127:1).

This Psalm puts us in the context of family relationships, which need to be permeated by this fear of God: father, mother and children should never want to offend Him! This is the well-formed family, imitating the Holy Family.

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A family thus composed will never turn away from God. Difficulties will come – this truth is undeniable – because it is impossible – contrary to the idea spread by certain films or soap operas – to live without difficulties. “Militia est vita hominis super terram – Man’s life on earth is a struggle” (Job 7:1). Here is the true key to family happiness: reciprocal respect between the spouses. Never quarrelling or falling out, always ready to forgive each other’s weaknesses, to put up with each other’s differences in temperament, adapting to each other’s preferences.

The family around God’s Law

This is the wonderful aspect of the family when it develops around one axis: the Law of God, God himself.

On the liturgical feast of the Holy Family, the Church sets before us the incomparable example of the Holy Family: St. Joseph who is obedient and complains about nothing; Our Lady who takes setbacks with complete courage and submission; and the Child Jesus who allows Himself to be led and governed by both, even though He is the Creator of the universe. We too, therefore, must be flexible to God’s Will and be ready to accept with sweetness of heart, with full and total resignation, the sufferings that Providence demands of us throughout our lives.

This attitude before the cross is the root of true happiness, well-being and family harmony, and it attracts to each one of us very special graces that restore our souls, healing them of their miseries and strengthening them on their way to Heaven.

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Let us ask the Holy Family that, through their intercession, a firm resolution may flourish in families all over the world to embrace always more intensely the way of sanctity, of perfection and of virtue, seeking first the Kingdom of God and of Mary, in the certainty that, in return, the rest will come as a reward.

By Guilherme Motta

Extracted, with adaptations, from: CLÁ DIAS, João Scognamiglio. O inédito sobre os Evangelhos: comentários aos Evangelhos dominicais. Città del Vaticano-São Paulo: LEV-Instituto Lumen Sapientiæ, 2012, v. 1, p. 135-147.

[1] BONSIRVEN, Joseph. Le judaïsme palestinien au temps de Jésus-Christ. 2. ed. Paris: Gabriel Beauchesne, 1935, t. II, p. 207.

Compiled by Roberta MacEwan

 

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