It seems appropriate that we celebrate the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph during the Christmas season, just after families have gathered for Christmas, frequently with stress over gift-giving, travel drama, and the intricacies of meal preparation for people with their various dietary needs and preferences. Today’s readings ask us to put family and life in their sacred and holy perspective. When we take care of aging parents we care for Christ, who is with all and in all. When we approach one another with compassion, kindness, gentleness, and patience, we communicate Christ’s love. Even when the Lord leads in ways we cannot quite appreciate or understand, we must follow God’s will, knowing that in doing so, we cooperate with God’s grace in our midst. Every family is called to be a holy family.

Your Holy Family

Families come in all shapes and sizes. When asked to describe your family, you might begin by telling people about a parent, sibling, or extended family members. You might even describe what you have learned from a genealogical study. You are unlikely, however, no matter how wonderful your family may be, to describe your family as “holy.” And yet, this is our primary call. Each of us as people of God, and each of our families, is called to be holy. We are called to live as God’s people in the world, to communicate God’s love and presence through the way that we live together and in relationship with others. Every family, no matter what their circumstances, is called to be a holy family. Even Mary, Joseph, and Jesus faced challenges and trials. And yet they rose to the occasion, listened to and followed God’s will, and were assured of the love of the Lord through it all.

Listen to Your Angel

Have you ever found yourself at a crossroads? One direction may be momentarily advantageous or easy, another more challenging but right or good. It is not always easy to know which direction to choose. Discerning our path of life necessarily involves prayer, the guidance of others whom we trust, and the promptings of the Holy Spirit within us. The example of the Holy Family is that they followed the will of God, trusting in God’s abiding presence even when they knew that doing so involved risk and uncertainty. Mary trusted the voice of the angel, although the message was beyond comprehension; Joseph listened to the voice of the Lord in dreams and proceeded, assured of God’s guiding spirit in the midst of troubling circumstances. This is what our families must do as well. Being Christian people in today’s world is not always easy, even when we know it is right. This is the meaning of holiness. This is what it means to be a holy family.