The Holy Family of Mary, Joseph and Jesus
This close family of all families will not fail us in our prayers.
What do the Holy Family think this Christmas? Yes the birth of their only son the Christ Child but also they will have in mind the good of the family of humanity spread all over our planet earth. To us their prayers are of the utmost value and importance. The Holy Family are at the very centre of Heaven and they rank higher than any with God, the Father of mankind in the One and Undivided Holy Trinity. Yes Jesus and his terrestrial parents form an unbreakable bond within the Holy Family and in to the Highest level in Heaven Herself. Our Holy Family rejoices in the appearance of the archangel Gabriel to Mary fixed in time and the timeless presence of the life of Christ in our lives whether we be Catholic or non-Catholic. This Holy Family, above all else, welcomes each one of us in to their holy and intimate life in Heaven which we may enjoy by our religious devotional prayers and intercommunion with them from our place on Earth.
What is the symbolic or metaphysical meaning of the life of this Holy Family? Essentially this lies in the historic adversity the parents of Jesus withstood at the time of His birth and shortly after. Also this meaning lies in the long years in Nazareth when this Holy Family were peaceful, quiet and undisturbed; finally when Jesus only had His Mother left and began His teaching period then in to His sorrowful time from Gethsemane to the place of the skull: Golgotha.
The Resurrection gave “birth” to His new divinely restored and inspired life when His Father rolled away the rock securing His tomb by His angels and His Son walked free. He was in the same body but His Life no longer depended on His birth in the stable in Bethlehem. In truth although robed in the same human biological clothes He had become the direct product of His Father in Heaven, yet He still walked the Earth visible and also invisible and consorted with His apostles and His mother in His risen state.
Joseph died peacefully when Jesus His adopted Son was also still a resident of Nazareth. The contrast of adversity with this peace and quiet enjoyment both of which I write of, is the nub of our own life stories if we are truthful. Very few persons, indeed probably none, face no adversity in their lives. We all, God willing, have some peace and quiet thanks to our friends and relations. Our lives mirror the Holy Family’s earthly life in those two respects. What lies under the surface of this adversity when the Holy Family fled to Egypt, and earlier was forced to urgently arrange the birth of Jesus against their preference in the unsuitable and unclean stable? The message is, if you are close to God the Father, you will sometimes be put under pressure from outside yourself. Yet the test is not only to withstand that adversity when it strikes but also to make the most of the good times and live at peace with our neighbours.
The Holy Family epitomise this cycle of life: adversity into peaceableness and back to difficulty. If we join the Holy Family in this cycle – (not troughs and highs) – we will live life to the full and come near to enjoying the essence of life eternal on Earth itself. The Holy Family teach the humility of accepting this cycle and the preparedness to extract goodness even from whatever adversity we have to face. This lesson is the true meaning of human life as taught by Jesus and His parents to us today and forever.
Conclusion. The crucifixion and His Passion were made possible by the upbringing Jesus Christ received from His parents. We do not know exactly what Joseph and Mary said to their son and did for him, but they must have instilled gravitas into Jesus for Him to face the Agony in the Garden and make the right choice there. Indeed to embark on His highly controversial and unacceptable to the Sanhedrin teaching life when He could have stayed a carpenter in Nazareth was a sign of His parents’ good guidance of Him. At the end of the day your parents will not save you but they do start you off and they may be of great help to their children when in the formative years. Joseph and Mary would have known that Jesus was called by God to be their Son but they did not understand the true and exact nature of his dual being to be enunciated later. They knew their Old Testament:
“Shoot from the root of Jesse”, “Prince of Peace and mighty Counsellor.”
but even Mary was not a born theologian and would defer to the Jewish teaching on the Messiah. She declaimed the Magnificat to Elizabeth when they were both with child. Joseph and Mary would have conferred and he would have learned of that great Marian Prayer of exclamation and Elizabeth’s equally definitive response. The good and holy are not deceived. Mary and Joseph acquired the understanding that their Son was no ordinary child in all this background and the life story of Jesus. They did not lack courage and insight. They did everything possible that they should do for their son before handing Jesus back to God Almighty. The Holy Family deserve our incessant thanks and contemplation: they should dwell in our hearts and souls as they dwell in the very Soul of the Creator of the Universe. He is the One who has brought about our very existence not for His pleasure, but to satisfy the all embracing and never ending power of creation within Himself. The Holy Family personify His creation in their exquisite life on Earth and in Heaven up above.