by Kathleen Curran Sweeney | Homiletic & Pastoral Review
The family life of Jesus, Mary and Joseph in Nazareth is an ever-present revelation of God’s purposes and work in the world, inviting to holiness families of the 21st century.
Does the household of Jesus, Mary and Joseph in the small village of Nazareth, whose historical existence was two millennia ago, bear any relevance to a modern urban family of the third millennium? Considering all the pressures that families are under these days, how can they possibly relate to the quiet and hidden life of the Holy Family?
To claim the continued relevance of the Holy Family for families today can mean more than proposing the Holy Family as a model for families to imitate, although it can be that as well. More profoundly, we can recognize that every moment of Christ’s life—from his conception, to his ascension, and reign at the right hand of the Father—partakes in the divine infinity of the Second Person of the Trinity. Therefore, the efficacy of the particulars of Christ’s life are not limited by either place nor time. They are eternally present to us, inviting us to live his life in our own time and place. Whatever the circumstances in which we find ourselves, we can bring these circumstances into the grace and presence of Christ’s infinite divine life incarnated both historically and in an eternal reality available for us today.
The family life of Jesus, Mary and Joseph in Nazareth, we can say then, is an ever-present revelation of God’s purposes and work in the world, inviting to holiness families of the 21stcentury. The witness of holy Christian families made possible by this infinite fount of grace is especially critical to the evangelization of contemporary culture which is anti-family in so many ways. The particular mission of the Holy Family to guard and nurture the Christ Child as the One who would save his people is also a mission for all families who are called through baptism to spiritually support Christ’s mission in the world. To open up this reality, we can explore several particular aspects of the Holy Family’s life, and its relevance to this deeper Christian vocation for modern families. A few of these are as follows: the centrality of Christ; contemplation and silence; Joseph as “just man” and father; the dignity of work and ordinary life; personal presence among family members; domestic church. ...