The Holy Family ... And Our Families

Recently, I re-watched the 2006 film “The Nativity Story,” which I used in my Video Divina series on “Meeting Jesus at the movies” two years ago. I enjoyed the way in which the film manages to communicate with grace (and occasional flashes of humour!) the profound humanity of the characters in the “greatest story ever told”. It fleshes out the personalities of Mary and Joseph, and the inner conflicts they experienced, without in any way undermining belief in Jesus’ divine origins. It also portrays realistically the harsh socio-political context into which Jesus was born. It’s a gritty, realistic, and ultimately uplifting portrayal of a courageous, faith-filled young couple who, in the face of incomprehension and grave danger, bring the Prince of Peace to birth.

Between December 28 and January 4, we mark three important feasts in the church calendar: The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph on Dec 28, the Blessed Virgin Mary under her title of Mother of God on January 1, and the revelation of Christ to all the nations in the Epiphany of Our Lord on January 4. At the center of all of these celebrations, we find Mary and Joseph. Like so many parents, they loved their child deeply, while struggling to understand his mysterious identity and vocation. They risked their lives to protect him from Herod’s brutal henchmen, fleeing as refugees into Egypt, and returning to Nazareth to raise him in self-giving, committed, sacrificial love.

So let us pray today for all families: may they grow each day in mutual love, respect, and understanding. Let us pray for our grandparents and elders: treating them with kindness and respect, open to their gift of wisdom, and patient with their frailties. Let us pray for parents: that God grant them wisdom and courage as they embrace the most important responsibility in human society, the nurture and care of their children, who are the future of our society. Let us pray for children throughout the world: may they be protected against the horrors of war, starvation and abuse; may they be raised in an atmosphere of love, acceptance, and responsibility. Let us join with Pope Francis and all the religious leaders of the world, who will make it their special effort this year to bring an end to human trafficking and all modern forms of slavery and exploitation. So may 2015 be an opportunity for each of us to grow each day: in wisdom and grace, in gratitude for our families and all of God’s blessings, and in fidelity to the unique call of God in our lives. May we follow his Star wherever it leads us. Happy New Year!