Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
When I reflect on the celebration of today’s feast, what often comes to mind is how fitting it is that we commemorate the Holy Family during the Christmas season. Of course, they are the protagonists in the birth of Jesus we celebrate on Christmas Day. Christmas and the days surrounding it are often cherished because of time we have with family. With family in mind, we turn to the Holy Family as the model of family life which was inaugurated with Jesus’ birth.
Striving to follow the Holy Family as families, we turn to the exhortation of St. Paul in the letter to the Colossians: “Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; …And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection.”
However, with this somewhat idyllic picture, today’s Gospel from Matthew relates how reality set in for Jesus, Mary and Joseph in their flight to Egypt. Just as reality sets in for so many families. Our various Catholic Charities agencies support and serve families irrespective of whatever factors have led them to our doorsteps. As the Catholic Charities network we seek to “put on, as God’s chosen ones” the virtues enumerated by St. Paul.
In part, the vision statement for Catholic Social Services (CSS) of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia states that “CSS exists to transform lives and bring about a just and compassionate society where…families are healthy and strong…” We can confidently express this when we uphold a tenet of Catholic social teaching which recognizes that the family is “the primary and vital cell of society.” And, in acknowledging this teaching, we look to the Holy Family with the belief that, as proclaimed in the Responsorial Psalm verse, “Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways.”