Holy Family, Year C-2009 and Mary, Mother of God

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He is not ashamed to call them “brothers” (Heb. 2:11)

If we can speak of the family as the domestic church, we can surely speak of the Holy Family at Nazareth as the very first domestic church (see Lumen Gentium, no. 11). This first domestic church has been held up by the Church as the model for every family of Christian believers.

The Holy Family shows us, for instance, “what the family is, its communion of love, its simple and austere beauty, its sacred and inviolable character” (see [1] or [2]). Nazareth teaches as well how the family’s role in rearing children, sweet and irreplaceable, is of fundamental importance to society.

The Holy Family of Nazareth—observant Jews that Mary and Joseph are portrayed in the Gospel of Luke (in the mold of Elkanah and Hannah, one can suppose)—exemplifies, moreover, a family that hears the word of God and acts on it (see Lk. 8:21; 11:28). The Holy Family, in all likelihood, could easily be singled out as reflecting the vision of the family proposed by the letter to the Colossians. For if I have no reason to think that Mary was not subordinate to Joseph, I have every reason to believe that Joseph loved her and cared for her son (Mt. 1:18; 2:14). And today’s gospel reading is explicit about Jesus being obedient to Mary and Joseph, advancing in wisdom and age and favor before God and man.

As the family goes, it is often said, so goes the society. By the same token, as the domestic church goes, so goes the whole church. If every domestic church could only be like the very first domestic church, we would surely have a church wherein God’s chosen ones—holy and beloved, adopted children of his and anointed with the Spirit of the Son—are imbued with heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, and mutual forbearance and forgiveness. We would have a church of the lowly and the poor who are ever in awe of God’s providence and who ponder in joy, attentiveness and contemplation the events around them in order to discern God’s designs and blessings. We would be a church that reveals the love of Jesus, who “handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25-27).

For further reading: [3]