Bring Christ into your family
By Fr. Ed Dougherty, M.M., The Christophers’ Board of Directors
The birth of Christ happened during a hectic and dangerous time for the Holy Family. They were on the run from Herod’s executioners, huddled in a stable because it was the only shelter they could find, and fearful for their future and their place in the world. Many would look at their situation and see only destitute people, but we are called to see in the Holy Family the very model for our lives.
To understand the Holy Family more fully, we should begin with Saint Joseph, because his role is the easiest to imagine. He was the protector and provider for his family, which is the role every husband and father is called to fulfill. The bible does not tell us all that much about Joseph, but that may just mean he performed his duties quietly.
Pope Benedict XVI said of Saint Joseph, “Let us allow ourselves to be ‘infected’ by the silence of Saint Joseph! We have much need of it in a world which is often too noisy, which does not encourage reflection and listening to the voice of God.”
We can imagine Saint Joseph must have been a man of prayer in order to guide his family safely through the dangers they faced around the time of Christ’s birth. When we use our logic to fill in the gaps of the silent witness of Saint Joseph, we find a man of wisdom, who used his talents to provide for his family, to keep them safe, and to seek out and create a peaceful environment in which Christ could grow into the man He needed to be.
Understanding Mary in relation to Saint Joseph brings the Holy Family further into focus. Let’s face it, Mary asked a lot of Joseph—to be father to a son they did not conceive together, to live with her in a state of perpetual virginity, and what they had to endure at the very outset of their marriage—being hunted and living in fear for their lives. Yet, everything Mary asked of Joseph came from God, and he knew that, so we see a relationship between the two of them as one based on trust and sacrifice for the greater good.
That greater good came in the form of the person of Christ. With the birth of Christ, we see the blessings and trials of the Holy Family beginning to reflect the blessings and trials of our own families. To be a family is to have profound gifts showered upon us by God. It is a chance to live in a harmonious relationship with others, sharing gifts with one another, strengthening each other through the bonds we form, and being willing to sacrifice to protect each other.
But with these gifts come profound struggles, and we see that the Holy Family faced such struggles at the very outset. They also had the answer to those struggles in the birth of Jesus. And, by welcoming Him into our hearts, we make Him present in our own families.
What did Christ bring to the Holy Family that He brings to us as well? He brought a dynamic of love that is unlike anything the world ever knew before His coming. That is what sustained the Holy Family throughout their trials and what can sustain any family today that turns to Christ with openness to the sacrifice He is asking each of us to make for one another.
For free copies of the Christopher News Note PEACE: THE ESSENCE OF THE CHRISTMAS MESSAGE, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org