Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Holy Family: Custodian of the Incarnation

Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

Jesus became man in order to destroy the works of the devil. That the demons know this is shown by the fact that during exorcisms, they would greet Jesus with the words: “Have you come to destroy us? We know who you are – you are the Holy One of God.” Thus, early on in the Lord’s life on earth, the Evil one made attempts on the life of the Holy Child. This he did through King Herod: “Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.” Herod, whose legitimacy as king is questionable because he was not a descendant of David, felt that the birth of this new-born King threatened the stability of his reign. The Light has come into the world and invites all to step into his radiance…but Herod chose to remain in the dark. The darkness of his mind was revealed when he commanded the massacre of all babies in Bethlehem and its environs. The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it…no matter what it does.

The darkness tried to overcome the Light but just before it could happen, an angel of the Lord commanded St. Joseph to rise and take the child and his mother to Egypt. God, who rules the world with a mighty hand, humbled himself by submitting himself to the protection of St. Joseph. He, who delivered the people of Israel from the slavery of Egypt on the night of the Exodus, was delivered from the hands of Herod and brought to Egypt in the middle of the night. Plagues did not come. The Red Sea did not part.  Their only protection was the thick shadow of the night. Their only means of transport was a donkey. Hastily brought by St. Joseph and the Virgin, God was running for his life. The Son of God was born into a humble family to be protected by it.

Through His humble submission, Jesus our Lord shows us that the Divine Life in us is protected by the Christian family. “Whoever honors his father atones for sins and preserves himself from them. When he prays, he is heard; he stores up riches who reveres his mother.” In so far as the family maintains its Christian identity and lives up to its calling to be salt and light of the world, the Divine life which Baptism imparted to its members will always be secured. When heart-felt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and mercy are practiced in a family…when love which is the bond of perfection is lived in a family, the Divine life will always be secured. 

And by remaining in the Divine Life, the family experiences joy. Pope Francis said: “Dear families, you know very well that the true joy which we experience in the family is not superficial; it does not come from material objects, from the fact that everything seems to be going well...  True joy comes from a profound harmony between persons, something which we all feel in our hearts and which makes us experience the beauty of togetherness, of mutual support along life’s journey.  But the basis of this feeling of deep joy is the presence of God, the presence of God in the family and his love, which is welcoming, merciful, and respectful towards all.  And above all, a love which is patient: patience is a virtue of God and he teaches us how to cultivate it in family life, how to be patient, and lovingly so, with each other. To be patient among ourselves. A patient love.  God alone knows how to create harmony from differences.  But if God’s love is lacking, the family loses its harmony, self-centeredness prevails and joy fades.  But the family which experiences the joy of faith communicates it naturally.  Ibid. That family is the salt of the earth and the light of the world, it is the leaven of society as a whole.” (September 27, 2013)

Jesus, I trust in you. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee

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