As the Church continues her celebration of the Christmas Octave, she observes this Sunday as the Feast of the Holy Family. This feast day highlights the fact that the Savior of the world chose to enter into our existence within the context of a family. The example of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph invites us to see the ideal when it comes to family life, offering all families a model to imitate.
In his beautiful document on Christian Families, Familiaris Consortio, Pope St. John Paul II offers the following charge: “family, become what you are.” He goes on to explain that “the family has the mission to become more and more what it is, that is to say, a community of life and love.” (17) The Holy Family lived this community of life and love in the most perfect way, and so offers us the closest glimpse of how the family is called to be an icon of the Trinity, the communion of persons in perfection.
No family will ever match the level of love that existed in the Holy Family, much less the love that exists in the Trinity. Nevertheless, each family should have it as their goal to become a more vivid image of the Trinity in the witness of their family lives. One of the ways of moving in that direction is to take time to reflect on the example of the Holy Family, noticing the love, respect, humility, and joy they lived.
Another means of growing in love in the family is through prayer. When a family prays together, they are inviting the Lord, who is a communion of persons, into the community of persons that exists in each family. One prayer I find particularly helpful for families to pray together is the Glory Be.
When we pray this prayer, we invoke the three persons of the Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We give them glory for the perfect union of love that exists among them. But we can also pray this prayer as a petition, asking that the love in our families will more perfectly imitate the love in the Trinity, so that our families become a “little Trinity.”
Perhaps this prayer can be our go-to prayer especially when we have struggles in our families. Our first thought might not be to give glory to God when we encounter trials, but it is very appropriate to do so. The Trinity desires to enter into our lives, no matter how messy they are. All three persons want to redeem whatever is broken in our families, and so giving glory to God in anticipation of that gift is pleasing to God and it renews our sense of hope that we do not have to remain in the mess, but that God offers us a way out.
On this Holy Family Sunday, I want to express my gratitude to all of you who are a part of this parish family. Just as a regular family has the mission of being a community of life and love, so too does our parish family have that same mission. It is my prayer that in the year ahead, our family will become more who we are as an icon of the Trinity through our deepened commitment to our love of God and one another. Merry Christmas!