Today, we celebrate the feast of The Holy Family. The feast we celebrate teaches us the importance of family as Christians. The Holy Family consist of the Baby Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph; this family cannot be seen as just ideal, but this is how the family instituted by God must be. A holy family is a family that has Jesus in it, is full of faith and unconditional love and is obedient to the commandments of God. A Holy family is the one instituted and approved by God Himself and not the one that seeks the approval of man. The church is the family of God, and it is Holy because Jesus Christ is the head of the church, so every family with Jesus is Holy. A look at the life of the Holy Family shows how God has been guiding, protecting, and leading them to the path of His choice. A Holy Family is not immune to challenges, but what makes a difference is that we still have our eyes set on God and are ready to listen and obey. St. John Chrysostom, an early church father and an Archbishop of Constantinople, said this about the family:
“When husband and wife are united in marriage, they no longer seem like something earthly, but rather like the image of God Himself.”
The Holy family, therefore, is the one that reflects the image of God. The word of the Lord that came to Abram was clear and unambiguous:
“Have no fear, Abram, I am your shield; your reward will be very great” (Genesis 15:1b).
This was because Abram was worried about his childlessness and now that he was advanced in age, was contemplating on the person to inherit his possessions. Abram was worrying too much because he did not know God’s plan concerning his childlessness. Abram told God that he was childless and that all his possessions given to him by God would be inherited by someone in his household other than his flesh and blood. God’s message for him was simple, heart-warming and very assuring. God told Abram that his heir would be his flesh and blood and revealed that his descendants would be uncountable, like the stars in the skies and the sand of the sea.
Abram had faith and believed in the promise of God. When we move with God, he speaks to us in worrying and stressful times, and all we must do is have faith and believe in His words. Abraham put his faith in the Lord, which God called righteousness.
“And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.” (Genesis 15:6).
Having faith in God is counted as righteousness because faith in God means acceptance of the promises of God, willingness to obey his commands, knowledge of him and His authority to make things happen. We cannot call ourselves children of God if we lack faith in the very person we call God. Christians believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and know that salvation is assured through their faith in Jesus Christ. Acts 16:31 says,
“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
God says, and it comes to pass, so there should not be room for doubts. God told Sarah in her old age that she was going to conceive, and it came to pass; he said Abraham’s descendants would be numerous, and it came to pass. God’s promises are sure, and he never breaks his promises. It is through faith that Abraham set out for a country, which was an inheritance given to him and his descendants. He did not know where, but he just had faith and obeyed the words of God. Also, it was by faith that Abraham agreed to sacrifice his only son Isaac to God even when God had made it abundantly clear that it was Isaac who was going to carry his name on. He did not question God but decided to offer Isaac. He had no idea how God was going to move this time but believed that even if Isaac was to die, God could still raise him from the dead. This is the faith of Isaac, the same faith that a Holy Family must exhibit.
A Holy family always obeys the laws of God and follows them to the latter. The Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph took the baby Jesus to Jerusalem to fulfil the law of Moses that said, “every first-born male must be consecrated to the Lord”. Our household must not be left out when it comes to being obedient to God. Our duty as a family is to introduce our children and households to the light of Christ because a family without faith in the Lord Jesus Christ cannot be holy. When we bring our children to the house of the Lord, God takes charge of them, and it takes away all the stress because we are assured that God will always order their steps.
Simeon lived a life of righteousness filled with total commitment and devotion to God; all he looked for was Israel’s comfort. The Holy Spirit rested on him and revealed that he would not taste death until he saw Christ. Simeon believed, and it came to pass, that when the baby Jesus was brought to the temple in Jerusalem, he was prompted by the Spirit, went to the temple, took Jesus into his arms and blessed God. His faith in God allowed him to see Jesus, so he was filled with joy and praise and prayed the Nunc Dimittis. Jesus’ presence in the temple filled people with joy and praise, including Anna, the daughter of Phanuel.
It is our prayer that our families would be holy, and as we approach the new year, may we grow in faith in the Lord and know that no matter how holy our families are, there will be challenges, as the Holy Family also experienced during the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. We will go through difficult times, but in all of it, God should help us to still focus on him, trust and obey. AMEN