December 29, 2019
by Thomas Lenz
Creighton University's Center for Health Promotion and Well-Being
click here for photo and information about the writer

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
Lectionary: 17

Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14
Psalms 128:1-2, 3, 4-5
Colossians 3:12-21 or Colossians 3:12-17
Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23

Celebrating Christmas home page

Christmas Daily Prayer

How Holy Can My Family Be?

A Parent Reflects on Jesus' Parents

Pope Francis' Homily on the Holy Family:
2018 | 2017 | 2015 | 2014 |

Merry Christmas! I am very grateful to be writing a reflection within the Christmas season, but especially on a day that celebrates the holy family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. There is much to love about today’s reading in Matthew’s gospel. To me, it captured delightful aspects of faith, our life’s journey, and especially the importance of family.

As I read through the passages, one of the parts that held my attention most strongly was the communication between God and Joseph. We know that if we are open, God communicates and moves us in many ways. Sometimes it is through song, other times through the actions and words of others, and sometimes it is a feeling in the depths of our stomach. For Joseph, it was an angel that came to him in a dream. The part that struck me was how Joseph responded. He trusted the message and acted. What a great example of being a “contemplative in action!” I bet that St. Ignatius loved this story.

Another part about this story that I especially love is the continued hardship that Jesus, Mary, and Joseph had to endure. It was not enough for Mary and Joseph to travel during pregnancy, give birth in a place other than home, and live in less than ideal conditions. Now, they needed to hastily leave because someone was looking to destroy Jesus. Sometimes it seems that the stress of parenting can be overwhelming, and it is clear that Mary and Joseph endured their share of parental stress. But, I also imagine that they were continually open to receiving strength from the Holy Spirit. This part of the story helps me understand that parenting isn’t easy for anyone and that a key piece to good parenting is allowing ourselves to be open and available to receive the Holy Spirit.

Certainly one of the strongest messages coming from Matthew’s gospel is the importance of family. Regardless of what the family structure looks like, the characteristics of trust, love, and support are necessary in any family – and, this is what the holy family demonstrates in today’s gospel. Moving, even in today’s world, is not easy and I can only imagine what it must have been like for Mary and Joseph. The details of Matthew’s story are not lengthy, but trust, love, and support (relational togetherness) must have been in full swing during their move. What a great example for us on how this is done.


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