Pilgrimage to Nazareth to the Holy Family

January 1, 2015 at 5:49 pm Leave a comment

Lectio Divino: Feast of the Holy Family

By Monsignor Francesco Follo

PARIS, December 26, 2014 (Zenit.org) – Sunday of the Holy Family, December 28 ‐ Year B ‐ December 28, 2014 

Roman Rite: Jan 15.1 to 6; 21.1‐3; B 11, 8.11‐12.17‐19; Luke 2, 22‐40 

Ambrosian Rite 

Jer 31.15 to 18. 20; Ps 123; Rm 8.14 to 21; Mt 2, 13b‐18 

Sunday ‐ Fourth of the eighth day of Christmas 

1) The Family who is Holy, hence true. 

The liturgy proposes to celebrate the Holy Family as a model of all human families and not just of Christian ones[1]. In a time of deep identity crisis of families especially Western ones, with separation, divorce and cohabitation of all kinds, to bring to the attention of our families this unique family of Nazareth means to “to rediscover the vocation and mission of the family, of every family. And, what happened in those 30 years in Nazareth, can thus happen to us too: in seeking to make love and not hate normal, making mutual help commonplace, not indifference or enmity”.(Pope Francis, General Audience, December 17, 2014).

The Holy Family of Nazareth shows what is the beginning and the central point of each true family: Jesus Christ. The Family of Christ was holy, because it is His, because it welcomed Him and gave Him to the world. Our families are called to do the same. If you are rooted in Him who has lived in it, you can understand and live the great assets that are marriage, family and the gift of life. You will also understand what great danger for man and for his dignity is its degradation in civil institutions.

I think that it is useful to start from the episode narrated by St. Mark in Chapter 3, in which to those who tells him, “Your mother, your brothers and your sisters are outside asking for you,” Jesus replies “Who is my mother and brothers?”

Looking around on those who sat about him, he said: “Here are my mother and brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother, sister and mother “(Mk 3: 31‐35). It is as if Jesus Christ said:

“My family is all here. I have no other families. The blood relations do not count unless they are confirmed in the spirit. My brothers are the poor who are crying, my sisters are women who have said yes to the Love, who has purified and elevated love. ”

Jesus did not despise His Mother, St. Joseph, his legal father, and his relatives. He did not disown the Mother of whose womb He was the fruit. He meant that he did not belong only to the “small” Holy Family of Nazareth, but to His mission of the Savior of the “great” human family. God comes to reconstruct the true meaning of the human family, the vocation of every man is the one of son and brother. God convenes his family to teach to be really a family, because he wants to free us from the temptation of loneliness. God knows that it is never good for man to be alone. God himself does not want to be alone, thus He creates a family for “all nations”, as sung by Simeon.

2) Pilgrims to Nazareth. 

As Pope Francis has recently proposed to every family, to every mother, every father and every child, let us make a spiritual pilgrimage to Nazareth to fill your own spirit with the sublime virtues of Mary, the humble servant of the Lord, of Joseph, the righteous man, the carpenter, the Keeper of the holy family and of Jesus, the Son of God, who was obedient to them and grew in age, wisdom and grace.

Today’s liturgy presents us with a meditation all centered on Christ, which is of particularly interested for the Christian families. It presents us with the mystery of the life of the child Jesus with his parents.

The passage of the Gospel today presents a familiar picture of great effectiveness for the understanding of the mystery of the Savior. We are at the time of presentation of the Lord to the Temple. Old man Simeon, who now occupies the main scene of the Gospel on the Holy Family, awaits this large and anticipated event. He recognizes Jesus as the true and awaited savior and is happy that the Lord allowed him to see this day. He is the person of gratitude, but also of prophecy, of courage and of the absence of any particular fear of death because in the Child Jesus he already sees the victory over it. Now this holy man of God, who had waited years for the coming of the Messiah, can leave happy the earth to meet the Lord in eternity.

In our families let us teach the sense of the eternal and of communion. Children grow up watching how adults live. Therefore to educate children means making them participate in the reality of the communion of the father and mother, who gave them life. To educate children means introducing them to life by teaching them gratitude.

3) A forgotten hero. 

The Holy Family was not a family without problems. Mary and Joseph shared the condition of that disconcerting son, following him step by step in the revelation of his mystery. It is precisely because of this total availability that they deserve our admiration. It is not easy to know to have custody of the Son of God, to flee to Egypt, to return home and live in Nazareth, a village considered suburban for the Jews, to see Jesus grow in wisdom and grace, leading an ordinary life with no exceptional events up to his thirtieth birthday.

One would like to know more about the life of this extraordinary family; in the end, though, St. Luke says just enough to outline its physiognomy. Although extraordinary in many ways, it is a family like all the others, with its joys, its pains, its secrets, leading a life according to faith, to experiencing the joy of the birth of a child who grows healthy and strong and is affected by prophecies that announce a difficult future. In all families not always the years run without troubles; sooner or later problems, sufferings, concerns arise and all the more painful if caused by the lack of love. The Family of Nazareth faced joys and difficulties of life under the guidance and custody of St. Joseph.

It is important to understand the greatness of this unique man who was the husband of Mary, and that was often reduced to be the supplier of material goods, as if in the Holy Family he had only the role of “external”, a man to whom rely unimportant tasks that do not require highest virtues. In fact if we think of the situation of Mary, when she carried in her womb the incipient carnal life of the Son of God, from the legal point of view this situation is something shocking for Joseph, because ‐ humanly and legally speaking ‐ his girlfriend had to be considered an adulteress worthy of the punishment of stoning.

How could Joseph acknowledge that Mary was innocent? Yet he was not even touched by doubt. His love for the Mary was not injured and he protected her reputation so that she would not risk her life. Joseph believes the Angel, and takes in Mary, so that she doesn’t fall into danger. She and her baby need Joseph, who with his spousal love even agrees to remain virgin so that He who is in Mary by the Holy Spirit can be born, grow and save the world. The angelic announcement: “Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife” is the seal of God on this unique wedding and at the heart of the deeper, more authentic, more divine human love. A man who is capable of such a greatness belongs to the race of giants and of saints. Joseph accepts to live his virginal love so not to inflict the slightest injury to his beloved. The marriage of Mary and Joseph has allowed Christ to enter the world with honor and to live the hidden life of Nazareth well protected, growing in wisdom and grace. In Nazareth, Joseph, Mary and Jesus lived day to day in a heroic way, so that the heroic becomes day to day and we too might imitate them in our daily lives.

Joseph participated with his whole person in the work of the Redemption of the Son of Mary: he has given to God the substance of his tenderness and his heart, sacrificing his love.

If we are parents due to marriage or fathers and mothers spiritually, the example of the Holy Family asks us to be ready for the sacrifice that makes life true.

I ask St. Joseph, who is the guardian and protector of virgins as he was of Mary, so that he may make the consecrated virgins in the world know how to bear fruits from the riches of their heart so to persevere in the path of holiness through the total gift of themselves to the Lord, who loves us with infinite patient and tender love.

1 Pope Francis: ” I have therefore decided to reflect with you, this year, precisely on the family, on this great gift that the Lord has made to the world from the very beginning, when he entrusted Adam and Eve with the mission to multiply and fill the earth (cf. Gen 1:28); that gift that Jesus confirmed and sealed in his Gospel. The nearness of Christmas casts a great light on this mystery. The Incarnation of the Son of God opens a new beginning in the universal history of man and woman. And this new beginning happens within a family, in Nazareth. Jesus was born in a family. He could have come in a spectacular way, or as a warrior, an emperor…. No, no: he is born in a family, in a family. This is important: to perceive in the nativity, this beautiful scene”. ( December 17, 2014)


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Entry filed under: Catechesis.

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