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The Two Trinities, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, c. 1675-82

Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Family. Through the Incarnation, the Divine Word assumed a human body, entering into every aspect of human life, including family life, sanctifying it and making it a path to holiness.

Teacher and author Scott Hahn says,

The family is the key to Christmas. The family is the key to Christianity…When God came to save us, he made salvation inseparable from family life, manifest in family life. Since the family is the ordinary setting of human life, he came to share it, redeem it and perfect it. He made it an image and sacrament of a divine mystery. Salvation itself finds meaning only in familial relations.[1]

The home of Jesus, Mary and Joseph is a school of prayer where we learn to listen, meditate, and enter into the deepest meanings of the manifestation of the Son of God. We are called to imitate Mary, Joseph and Jesus as our examples of holy living in the context of the family.

Mary and Joseph were the earthly parents of the Christ child. In this role, they are the perfect parenting models. By their example of dedication and obedience to God, they are witnesses to the spirit of love for Christ that guided every aspect of their lives.

When Mary wondered (not doubted) how it could be that she would be with child, the Angel of the Lord told her that the child would be of the Holy Spirit. Mary responded with trust and obedience. Joseph so deeply honored and loved Mary that he was unwilling to subject her to the humiliation of an illegitimate pregnancy. He chose instead to “quietly dismiss” her. When the angel assured Joseph that the baby was of God, he responded with trust and obedience. He spent his life protecting and supporting the Holy Family. Mary and Joseph certainly modeled this faithful behavior throughout their lives. They were humble and their singular purpose in life was to serve God. Husbands and wives today would do well to strive for the honor, love, and devotion that Mary and Joseph had for their family and their wholehearted trust and obedience in God.

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another…outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:9-10

A concrete way for couples to build each other up in their marriages is to heed of these words of St. Paul, “outdo one another in showing honor” (Rom 12:10). While this may sound difficult, God will give you the grace. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that the grace God pours out on husbands and wives through the sacrament of Matrimony perfects “the couple’s love” while strengthening “their indissoluble unity,” helping one “another to attain holiness in their married life” (CCC, 1641).

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with might through his Spirit in the inner man, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:14-21

It is in and through family life that we are made holy. God loves the cheerful giver so give abundantly of your love for the salvation of your spouse and family. May your family give witness to the love of the Holy Family, shining brightly in a culture so in need of examples of the joy of holy and self-sacrificial love.

[1] Scott Hahn, Joy to the World: How Christ’s Coming Changed Everything (And Still Does), (New York, Image, 2014), 9.