The feast that we celebrate today, which belongs fully to the Christmas cycle, is an invitation to look towards Nazareth and contemplate the life of the family of Mary, Joseph and Jesus. In this family the fragile Jesus who was born in the manger, submitted to the advice and teachings of his mother and showed the kindness of his father before the eyes of everyone. Jesus did not appear on earth with a human figure without being a true man. Jesus became one with us when Mary said “Yes” to God, while Joseph stood beside her, strengthening the foundation of love. Here, marriage was created.
Mary and Joseph were not only destined to one another, but were also called to actualize the design of God for man. Both were asked to renounce carnal love to consecrate their lives to a much higher love, for the Lord Himself had chosen them to be the true mother and the representative of God as the legal father of Jesus. It was necessary that there should be a greater love between them in order to carry out the mission entrusted to them—a mission which was not so easy to carry out. Both would have to go through sorrow and suffering. Joseph on his part, was tested in his love when he realized that Mary was pregnant. Such was his love that he did not want to denounce her. Instead, he decided to protect her from shame and condemnation. And to Mary herself, the old Simeon announced that a sword of suffering would pierce her heart. God often tests those he loves.
The total trust in the love of God was not lacking in that family of Nazareth. After they returned to their beloved land, and settled in Nazareth, they saw the days go by in the greatest darkness, as if all the promises of the Most High had disappeared. But they persevered. Their love for God united them, as well as their love for each other. There was never among them the slightest hint of carnality, but they held each other in trials and difficulties. There were sufferings surrounding Bethlehem at that time but their total trust in the love of God grew bigger each day because they knew that the Son of God was with them.
This is how God wants in the family—to come together, with a true love that can withstand all the trials. Between husbands and wives, the enjoyment of carnal love may be needed, but this is not the most important thing in their union. What is important for them is to show that they love each other in the way they take care of themselves, always seeking first the happiness of the other before their own. As to the children, being the gifts God has given in the family, parents should take care of them, so that by caring and educating them they will find the mission that will make them procreators and counselors of those souls called to be children of God. The home of Nazareth must be the model for all of us to follow, so that in each home there is another like that of Mary, Joseph and Jesus.
In the family, the Lord should always be among us. In Him we will find strength to accept all the difficulties in life and resolve them, knowing that the Holy Spirit will be with us as he always was in the home of Nazareth. Yes, there is no family that does not have to go through trials and disappointments. But in a family, where each member is united by true love and always opening their hearts to the present of God in their lives, everything will be possible. In a home where the will of God reigns, there is an assurance that the family will live happily knowing that in fulfilling the will of God, the prize will be eternal. It is not about having many children or possessing a lot of things in the family. Rather it is in having the awareness of the Lord’s guidance and protection that each one will seek in common prayer. It is that awareness that the love of God is the very foundation that makes a family strong.
Where there is love, there is God. May peace, joy, understanding and, above all, the love of God reign in all families.
Fr. Virgil Paredes Jr., OAR
December 31, 2017