Let’s imitate the Holy Family
to bring this Society back to Life
Gospel: Matthew, Chap 2, verses. 13-15.19-23
December 27, 2020
Feast of the Holy Family
Homily of the Pontiff Samuel
Dear brothers and dear sisters, the Feast of the Holy Christmas continues today and is alive, everlasting and throbbing and is not to last just for one day but for ever, so that Christmas may not be just one day but the eternal day that marks His return, the return of the Lord: the return of the Lord in our hearts. And we here live the Lord’s return: the Child Jesus has been born (Lk 2:11), He is back, He is.
Here we are today, dear brothers, living the feast of the Holy Family, that feast which is celebrated on the first Sunday after Christmas which highlights the sacredness of the family, of that Sacred and Holy Family (Mt 1:24-25), God’s holy family, which the Father, in this Church, has wanted to bring back to the centre of the life of each one of us.
Here is this Universal Church, established by the Father to bring His original plan back to the centre (Gn 2:24); and here is the family, the domestic church, from which we must start, re-start, so that the family may return to be the centre of the life of each one of us. This is today’s challenge: to put the family back at the centre, nowadays so very attacked by a civil society that is no longer based on the centrality of the family formed by the indissoluble union of a man and a woman, but a civil society that focuses on the ego, on one’s “self”, on selfishness and not on the self-giving, on giving ourselves to each other which is inherent and the foundation in being a “family”. Living the family involves sacrifice, because in the family our “self” is to be annulled so to merge with that of the other, so that they are no longer one but the two become one, “one flesh”, as the celebrant says when that Sacrament, “the” Sacrament, is celebrated. And when the Father, by His particular grace, grants and bestows the fruits of spousal love, then in the family the responsibilities increase and thus the burden, because the duty of a father and of a mother is to bring up these fruits generated by love, wanting to educate them with holiness, transmitting them the virtues of obedience, purity, humility which today are the essential weapons to win in this world, to oppose a world that no longer lives these virtues, a world that no longer lives obedience, not even civilly towards the constituted authority, but above all no longer lives the obedience towards the first constituted authority, which is God the Father Almighty. A haughty and arrogant world (1Jn 2:16), which despises humility and despises the humble people: it no longer puts this virtue at the centre, because it is seen as a stumbling block for all those who want to humanly climb this society so to achieve positions of power. A world where shamelessness and selfish love have overridden the pure and spousal love, in which a man and his wife join in that holy embrace where love is given to one another, a free and living love that aims to the joy of the other, not to one’s selfish joy.
Here is the family, which the Father, in this Land of Love, has once again placed at the centre. Here is the example of Maria Giuseppina Norcia, she who has embodied, both in her name and in her life, the virtues of Mary Most Holy and the virtues of Saint Joseph. Here is her divine Call, for having been called by God to become the “living cradle” of the Love made Flesh, descended from Heaven into this Land of Love (Acts 1:11) by the will of the Father. But here is also her human call, for having humanly been called to form a family, so to be an example in these hard and difficult times in being a family, example of how the family should be lived, wanting to educate and bring up everyone to live in that example and in that holiness that have characterized her life. Then, of course, for everyone the freedom – which the Father also confers on His sons and on all mankind – makes the difference.
She has embodied to perfection the aforementioned virtues and has been the perfect example of being a “family” because she wanted to serve the Father without ever betraying or denying Him. Here is what has characterized her heart and her life, example for all of us who are now a family: that of obeying God first and before everyone else, putting the love and the will of God at the centre before everything else (Mt 6:33; 22:37; Dt 6:5), even before any human will or desire of those who belonged to her.
This is the example of who lives the family putting God and His plan at the centre. This is how to live and bring the family to live, in this way living and sustaining the family by their job. These are the priorities that each one of us embodies: us ministers, husbands and fathers; and this is the example that today we are all called upon to embody.
Here is the example of Mary Most Holy, she who abandoned herself to the will of God when the Angel appeared her heralding God’s call. “I have no knowledge of man”, she said (Lk 1:34). And she was saying the truth. But God, the Almighty, has been able to do everything and can do everything. She consented to that mysterious and particular plan, making herself available to God, without ifs or buts, becoming the handmaid of the Lord (Lk 1:38). And precisely for her having become handmaid, the Father spiritually married this Maiden, raising her to the rank of Mother, Mother of the Son and at the same time, Mother of Himself, in a mystery and in an intertwining that humankind will never be able to truly understand and accept by the use of human logic. Unless they unclothe themselves of “self”, of their judgments and prejudices and don’t live the Mysteries of God with faith, they will never be able to be clothed by the Light of Christ and fully live His Christmas.
Christmas means to come to the light, to be clothed by the light of the one who is Light, so to bring the light to this world and to pierce the darkness (Jn 8:12). Here is the Christmas of the sons of Christ. Here is the Christmas of the glorious Saint Joseph, he who totally unclothed himself to be reborn in the Child Jesus. On that Christmas day, Joseph too was reborn: he was reborn in the love of the Love made Flesh; he was reborn to new life having for first welcomed Mary and then that Son born through the work of the Spirit (Mt 1:20-21). And from that moment on, Joseph protected and looked after his family entrusted to him by the Father, always behaving without hesitation, guided by Heaven which was at Joseph’s side in all the difficult moments providing him with directives and guidance, as we have heard today in this page of the Gospel (Mt 2:13; 19:20).
And this page must be well understood in order to acknowledge, on one hand, the obedience and the loyalty of Joseph to the will of the Father (Mt 2:14.21); and, on the other hand, to understand what happened at that time, in order to prevent these words from being exploited in our times and used for an unholy purpose by the one who manipulates the history of the Holy Family for his personal gain. St. Joseph, Mary and the Child Jesus did emigrate. They were migrants; they went into exile (Mt 2:13); in the waiting to return then to their homeland, it is written (Mt 2:20). And Joseph did so: he went to a foreign land not to subvert the rules of that land, not to use violence against the inhabitants, women or children of that foreign land, but to deeply respect its principles and rules; to then return, at the moment in which Joseph heard in his heart the voice of God who said to him: “Joseph, return; return now” (Mt 2:19-20).
Here is the story of the Holy Family: even they experienced the difficulty of emigrating to a foreign land, fleeing from the hand of those who wanted to kill the members of that family; they did not leave on a whim or a momentary difficulty: they were risking death. Here is that this family gives us the example, even today, of how to live the events of our hard and difficult time, so to be able, on one hand, to welcome all those who need to be welcomed (Psalm 145:9), who are to be welcomed with a Christian spirit when they flee from the danger of death; to then understand, on the other hand, what the Holy Family has brought to completion in history.
No exploitation must be made of what Joseph did, of what Mary did to protect the Child Jesus, but rather a deep understanding of the Word of the Sacred Scriptures. Only in this way this world will be able to recover and overcome the challenges that today are placed at the centre of the life of this society: taking inspiration and example from the Holy Family, from the words of the Gospel, in order to well understand and put them into practice, so that even the difficulties of today, can be faced and overcome in the light of the Word of God, in the light of the example of the Holy Family, in the light of the example of what has been done by the head of that family together with his wife and together with their son.
This is the example of what we are all called to live and embody now. Only by following the example of that Holy Family, the Light will be able again to pierce the darkness of this society (Is 9:1; Jn 8:12). Nowadays only few are those who really want to put the example of the Holy Family at the centre, so to imitate it, to imitate the living and holy example of Joseph, Mary and Baby Jesus.
And you, husbands and fathers, follow the example of Joseph; you, wives and mothers, follow the example of Mary Most Holy; you, dear children, follow the example of the child Jesus; you, dear girls, follow the example of Mary, the eternal Maiden, so to be able to embody the virtues of obedience, purity and humility, and be able to manifest the holiness that characterizes the sons of God, those who want to live by placing the love of Jesus and the love of Mary at the centre, those who live to give priority to God and then to the family, which must come before any other choice: career, work, money or else (Ex 20:2-3.12 ; Col 3:1-4; Mt 6:19-21).
Those who truly love Jesus, those who truly love Mary, those who truly want to do the Father’s will, put God, the Father Almighty (Mt 22:37-38) at the first place thus embodying that family spirit that the Father gave us in Joseph and Mary.
This is what we need to do today. This is the challenge taken up by this Church in order to place at the centre, I return to say, the sacredness of the Family and the sacredness of Life, fundamental pillars that support this society.
Be, be, be to make the others be. Imitate the Holy Family and defend your family with all your might. Those who have a family, those who are a family, must defend this sacrament with all their strength. Those who are young boys or young girls who have at heart the desire to form a family, are to keep this holy desire in order to be able to fully live it at the right time.
This is the first thought, the first reason for living: to love God the Father Almighty (Mk 12:30) and to be able to live the family (cf. Mk 12:31) as the founding cell of this humanity, that will carry forward this humanity (Gn 1:28), that will heal it and will bring it to victory. Only in this way we will be able to discover the meaning and the essence of Christmas and, as they say, be “better”. At Christmas we are called to be “better”, it is said. It’s true; but not to be “better” as the world thinks, but to be “better” as God intends, imitating and loving His Goodness, the Love made Flesh (Tit 3:4). This means wanting to be “better” in the day and in the time of Christmas, a day and a time that is timeless and eternal, so that everyone may discover and love the Goodness of God (Ps 106:43) which will bring us back to know the Father’s Heart and to love it in its essence and substance, which is Goodness, just as the Child Jesus, in His holiness and in His childhood, transmits to us, in order to put back at the centre the love for St. Joseph, for Mary and for the little Jesus.
And so be it.