In this Octave of Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus the Christ who is sent by the Father into the world to be a visible witness of the love of God that has been poured out on the world. The eternal Word became flesh and dwelt among us in a human existence that brought new life and order to a sometimes chaotic and meaningless existence. We are all witnesses of the violence, chaos, injustice and abuse that are still very much a dark presence in our world. The light of the Christ child enters into this situation and brings hope that the human race might still travel the road of the future and find healing and a fullness of life in God’s kingdom. The birth of Jesus in a humble manger amidst the violent protest and fear of Herod reminds us of the vulnerability of human life and existence in the midst of a world still infected by sin and still threatened by organized systems of oppression and violence that can extinguish the light of hope in our human lives.
This Sunday we celebrate the Solemnity of the Holy Family. It is a reminder to us that it is not enough to be born into the world, for a light to be lit; that life and light must be protected and nurtured into the fullness of life. The child must be allowed to grow, the light must be shielded from the winds of political policies that threaten to extinguish it, so that it may accomplish its purpose of guiding us into a future of hope. The child must not only be born but received and welcomed into a home where it may be sheltered, nurtured, loved and formed in an environment that allows it to fulfill its destiny of renewing life and hope. A child needs a family that will help it to grow and protect it from the forces of darkness that still exist in the world. The Holy Family is an icon for us of truly human life and existence. God entered into our world and made himself vulnerable in the child Jesus to all of the forces of darkness and evil that threaten our human existence. Jesus needed a mother and father who would love and protect him in his growth and development and lead him in a way of wisdom and grace to a fully mature and stable human life. The liturgical readings for the Feast of the Holy Family remind us of the dangers that threaten human life and existence and of the valuable gift of family life that offers a haven of love and protection for human growth. Joseph and Mary offer us models of true parents who are willing to make the sacrifices of love that are necessary for stable family life.
In our society today we still see the many forces of darkness that threaten family life and seek to destroy that haven of love and security. As Jesus needed a family and loving parents who would protect him and teach him a way of wisdom and peace so do our children today need a stable family life to assure them of a full and joyful human life. The newspapers today are full of stories of children who have been denied a stable family life and who have fallen prey to the suffering that the world inflicts upon vulnerable children who do not grow up with loving parents to shepherd them through the early years of development and growth.
These situations remind us of the tension in the world that children are born into. Children desperately need a family life that will sustain them and teach them a way of life that will lead to a future of hope. Too many young people are struggling with lives that are devoid of meaning and hope because they have been denied a stable family life. The Holy Family were poor and simple, reminding us that material possessions are no substitute for love and the presence of parents who model justice and compassion.
Family life is threatened in our society by new legislation and those who seek to redefine human life. The Solemnity of the Holy Family reminds us how desperate is the need to protect our traditional family life. Families that are firmly grounded in a true marriage of a man and a woman who will provide a safe and secure environment of love for their children is a concern for us all for a future of hope. Don’t allow the Herods of today to destroy what is our greatest hope for a future of peace.