The WORD in other words (2021) by Fr Sonny de Rivera, SVD (Rome)
Feast of the Holy Family / Octave of Christmas
Photo by Fr Treb Futol / Facebook
About two years ago, my sister lost her second son from kidney failure. Her elder son succumbed five years earlier, also to an aggravated health condition. For a mother, losing two sons was a nightmare and an inconsolable event. But she continues to move on with her husband, her only daughter, and the memories of her significant relationships with Raldy and Kenneth, her sons. Her family continues to be the core and center of her life.
When I think of my sister’s predicament, I am reminded of the centrality of children in a family. The Feast of the Holy Family prompts us to recall the centrality of Jesus in the life of Mary and Joseph. The Holy Family was centered on Jesus. Mary and Joseph experienced anxiety when Jesus was lost for three days.
The family of Nazareth is holy because Jesus is the center and the core of Mary’s and Joseph’s attention and care. They were a model family in which both parents worked hard, helped each other, understood and accepted each other, and took good care of their Child. Jesus was the reason for the holiness of Joseph and Mary.
Pope Francis reminds us that the anxiety felt by Mary and Joseph when Jesus was lost for three days should also be our anxiety when we are far from Jesus, and when we forget Jesus. This happens when we do not give Jesus a special place in our family. Mary and Joseph found Jesus in the Temple, and, according to Pope Francis, we too should seek Jesus in the house of God, in His Word and the Eucharist.
The Sunday following Christmas is celebrated as the Feast of the Holy Family. On this occasion, the Church encourages us to look to the Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph for inspiration, example, and encouragement. What challenges are our families experiencing? What predicaments and problems do we face as families that continue to hurt and isolate us?
And lastly, let us be reminded what the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s advice is to parents: “Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well-suited for education in the virtues. This requires an apprenticeship in self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery – the preconditions of all true freedom. Parents should teach their children to subordinate the material and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones.” (CCC #2223)