What makes a holy family?

The WORD in Other Words by Fr Arlo Yap SVD (Philippines) for Holy Family Sunday

In the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, I always say: “Groom, your family is your   wife to be. Bride, your family is your husband to be! And your children-to-be are fruits of your love for each other!” But it is when Jesus is in their midst that the husband and the wife become a complete and holy family, with or without children, “For where   two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Mt. 18:20).   That‘s why Joseph, Mary and Jesus are the Holy Family!   

Today‘s Gospel shows Joseph to be a God-fearing man. Always guided by his faith and trust in God, he gives protection for Jesus and Mary, taking them to Egypt   to stay away from Herod, and back to the land of Israel, in Nazareth, as the angel of  the Lord advised him in a dream. 

Mary is the example of what St. Paul wrote to the Colossians in the 2nd reading: “Wives, be subordinate to your husbands, as is proper  in the Lord.” And Jesus, Son of Mary and Joseph, is the example of reverence and   obedience to the parents as described in the 1st reading from the book of Sirach.   

In these readings, Joseph and Mary are full of trust in God. They always follow the will of the Lord, despite many difficulties and sacrifices. The Responsorial Psalm describes them: Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways. Joseph and Mary walk in God’s ways because of their love for Jesus, who honors them.   

The past two weeks presented a wealth of possibilities to make our families holy. In the nine-day Misa de Gallo, parents with their children celebrated the preparation for Jesus’ Nativity. Christmas gathered families together starting from the Holy Mass on   the Solemnity of Jesus‘ Nativity, to a simple noche buena afterwards. Others perhaps   proceeded with the traditional gift-giving (aguinaldo) and paying respect to relatives   by visiting them. What is important is being together.   

The father of the family, like Joseph, leads his wife and his children in their faith by word and example. Being the pillar of the family (haligi ng tahanan), he not only provides daily material necessities for the family, but also spiritual and moral   formation. Whereas the mother, like Mary, is the inspiration of the family (ilaw ng tahanan), the guiding light before her children and an unwavering support for her husband. And the children, like Jesus, obey their parents in everything, for obedience is pleasing to the Lord. 

And whatever all of them do, in word or in deed, they do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Then the family shall be blessed. Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways. This is holy family.

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