Praised Be Jesus!
So, it has begun: In the Ordinary Form, our priests are back to wearing green, but for those of you who are more oriented towards the Extraordinary Form, congrats! Christmas ends for you on February 2 (but I digress). As I noted in my last post, two weeks ago, in the Ordinary Form, the Church celebrated the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, but those of us who have attended the Extraordinary Form will know that past Sunday also coincided with the Feast of the Holy Family, which is celebrated the Sunday after Christmas Day in the Ordinary Form, unless that Sunday is January 1, in which case it is celebrated December 30. (And yes, juggling liturgical calendars gets very confusing.)
I couldn't help but think while listening to the readings how complementary these two feasts are. What Jesus does in His baptism is the same thing He does in His Incarnation. At the Incarnation, God chose to be born into a human family, subject to His parents, Mary and Joseph, and to grow up like any child. Like any family, the Holy Family had their hardships. In the Incarnation, Christ raises up the dignity of the human family, with all of our daily trials and tribulations.
What Christ does at His baptism is to allow us all to share in His Family — mystically and spiritually, of course. It is through this Sacrament that we participate in the family unit of Jesus Christ. I think, as Christians, we isolate the Holy Family out of a misguided form of piety. The Holy Family is far removed from our gritty experience of family life, but the reality couldn't be further from the truth.
By the very nature of baptism, we are incorporated into the Family of Christ: Mary becomes our mother, and Saint Joseph becomes our foster father in a very real way. Through our baptism, we share in the experience of the Holy Family, and Jesus, Mary and Joseph draw near to us. In all our imperfections, and in all our struggles, the Holy Family shares in these things with us. The Holy Family is not far removed from us — in a sense, they have shared in all our difficulties, all our joys, and in this, we can truly turn to them as an example of how to be family and how to be the Church.
PRAYER TO THE HOLY FAMILY
by Pope Francis
Jesus, Mary and Joseph, in you we contemplate
the splendour of true love, to you we turn with trust.
Holy Family of Nazareth, grant that our families too
may be places of communion and prayer, authentic schools of the Gospel
and small domestic Churches.
Holy Family of Nazareth,
may families never again experience violence, rejection and division:
may all who have been hurt or scandalized find ready comfort and healing.
Holy Family of Nazareth, may the approaching Synod of Bishops
make us once more mindful of the sacredness and inviolability of the family,
and its beauty in God’s plan.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
graciously hear our prayer.