Preacher’s Sketchbook: Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph
December 24, 2013
Each week, a Dominican member of the Province of St. Joseph’s Preaching Advisory Board prepares this Preacher’s Sketchbook in anticipation of the upcoming Sunday Mass. The idea of the Preacher’s Sketchbook is to take quotations from the authority of the Church–the Pope, the Fathers of the Church, documents of the Councils, the saints–that can help spark ideas for the Sunday homily. Just as an artist’s sketchbook preserves ideas for later elaboration, so we hope the Preacher’s Sketchbook will provide some ideas for homiletical elaboration.
Dear families, you know very well that the true joy which we experience in the family is not superficial; it does not come from material objects, from the fact that everything seems to be going well…. True joy comes from a profound harmony between persons, something which we all feel in our hearts and which makes us experience the beauty of togetherness, of mutual support along life’s journey. But the basis of this feeling of deep joy is the presence of God, the presence of God in the family and his love, which is welcoming, merciful, and respectful towards all. And above all, a love which is patient: patience is a virtue of God and he teaches us how to cultivate it in family life, how to be patient, and lovingly so, with each other. To be patient among ourselves. A patient love. God alone knows how to create harmony from differences. But if God’s love is lacking, the family loses its harmony, self-centeredness prevails and joy fades. But the family which experiences the joy of faith communicates it naturally. That family is the salt of the earth and the light of the world, it is the leaven of society as a whole.
Blessed John Paul II
The Church is deeply convinced that only by the acceptance of the Gospel are the hopes that man legitimately places in marriage and in the family capable of being fulfilled. Willed by God in the very act of creation, marriage and the family are interiorly ordained to fulfillment in Christ and have need of his graces in order to be healed from the wounds of sin and restored to their “beginning,” that is, to full understanding and the full realization of God’s plan… Accordingly, the family must go back to the “beginning” of God’s creative act if it is to attain self-knowledge and self-realization in accordance with the inner truth not only of what it is, but also of what it does in history. And since in God’s plan it has been established as an “intimate community of life and love,” the family has the mission to become more and more what it is, that is to say, a community of life and love in an effort that will find fulfillment, as will everything created and redeemed, in the kingdom of God. Looking at it in such a way as to reach its very roots, we must say that the essence and role of the family are in the final analysis specified by love. Hence the family has the mission to guard, reveal, and communicate love, and this is a living reflection of and a real sharing in God’s love for humanity and the love of Christ the Lord for the Church, his bride. Every particular task of the family is an expression and concrete actuation of that fundamental mission.
Pope Benedict XVI
In the Gospel we do not find discourses on the family but an event which is worth more than any words: God wanted to be born and to grow up in a human family. In this way he consecrated the family as the first and ordinary means of his encounter with humanity…. Mary and Joseph taught Jesus primarily by their example: in his parents he came to know the full beauty of faith, of love for God and for his Law, as well as the demands of justice, which is totally fulfilled in love (cf. Rom 13: 10). From them he learned that it is necessary first of all to do God’s will, and that the spiritual bond is worth more than the bond of kinship. The Holy Family of Nazareth is truly the “prototype” of every Christian family which, united in the Sacrament of Marriage and nourished by the Word and the Eucharist, is called to carry out the wonderful vocation and mission of being the living cell not only of society but also of the Church, a sign and instrument of unity for the entire human race.
Servant of God Luigi Giussani
How does a child become a man? He acquires his physiognomy, he brings his structure into being, he grows into an unmistakable personality through a continual osmosis due to the fact of belonging to an event with a structure and a face all its own: the family. The more the family possesses its own physiognomy—the more it is aware and rich with humanity—the more the child comes to have a personality of his own. It is precisely the experience of continuity that allows the differentiation of persons, the formation of his distinctive traits. This is the wonderful paradox that expresses the root of that endless unity that generates each and every man; it is the deep principle of creation. Analogously, man walks toward his destiny, he realizes himself, by living within that familiar “fact” of the brotherhood of men in Christ, of men who recognize one another and share a common path, because Christ is among them…..In this way, the adult man is “saved,” that is, he grows, and finds with time that he has changed; he matures, and finds himself ever more immanent to him for whom he was made, and for whom his entire being cries out.
Father Yves Congar, O.P.
The submission of Jesus to his parents is the sole trait by which Saint Luke, who brought together the memories which Mary had stored up in her heart, describes the years during which Jesus grew up and received his training. We are familiar with the technique of ancient authors, who, in telling of the life of their hero, were interested only in those facts which bore a relationship to his mission or public destiny. They did not look, as we tend to do today, for minute details and curious incidents, but for the signs which were an indication of the great destiny to come. What Saint Luke is writing is a sacred history, a page from salvation history; only that is retained which is relevant to the salvific mission of Christ. This point is crucial. Jesus learned obedience, not only through what he suffered, as the Letter to the Hebrews tells us, but also from his life as a child in his home at Nazareth. It was by the practice of the fourth commandment that Jesus began, in his human soul, the practice of filial obedience which he had to give to his heavenly Father. It was this which began the formation in him of the sentiments and the attitudes by which, in his Passion, he effected our salvation.
Sunday Preacher’s Resource
Additional Preaching Resources
- The USCCB: Christmas Resources
- The Holy See: Christmas
- Fr. Thomas Rosica (Salt and Light Media)
- The Torch
- Fr. Francis Martin Website
- Biblius Clerus, a resource of the Congregation for the Clergy
- The Catena Aurea of St. Thomas Aquinas, O.P., for the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John
Image: Correggio, Holy Family with St. Jerome