For Christians, the Holy Family is used as a model for all families. This family – consisting of the incarnate savior and son of God, his mother born without sin who bore the Son of God conceived by the Holy Spirit within her, and her husband the carpenter – is not necessarily the typical family yet for Christians, there are many things that can be learned from this small and unique family in regards to marriage and family. I would argue that there are three main ways in which the Holy Family is a model for all families.
“Yes” to God and to Family
At the Annunciation, Mary gave her fiat and thus the Son of God was conceived within her. Joseph, her betrothed, upon finding out that she was pregnant considered that she was pregnant and he was not the father considered leaving her. However, after being visited by an angel, Joseph gave his own fiat and decided to marry Mary and to help her to raise the child. Joseph was understanding, forgiving, and merciful.
Both Joseph and Mary did not only say “yes” to each other upon their marriage, they both said “yes” to the will of God and to the son that they would raise. For Christians, there is the belief that we are called to say “yes” to the will of God, whatever it might be, but we are not called to do it alone. Couples must be willing to accept the will of God whether that be in the form of a child or many children or no children at all or other situations that they encounter.
Trial and Suffering
When God gave Mary the role as the mother of Jesus and Joseph as his foster father, he was not entrusting them with any easy task. In the scriptures we read of a number of different trials that the family encountered from the birth of Jesus, the flight to Egypt, losing Jesus in the Temple, and the suffering of Jesus. While the family had to face many trials, out of love for each other and for God they worked together in order to keep each other safe and to allow for the will of God to come to reality in the world through the figure of Christ. Christians are called to support their family and to turn to each other and to God in times of trial and pain.
A Chaste Marriage
Many Christians believe that even following the birth of Christ that Joseph and Mary remained virgins in order to protect the paternity of Christ. While Christian marriages are not called to replicate this completely, the virtue of chastity is one that is still necessary for marriage. Chastity does not mean not having sex but that one’s desires are properly ordered. In the context of marriage, chastity is loving the other person in the correct manner and this is shown in the sexual act.
While the Holy Family is by no means the typical family, each Christian family should look toward the members of the Holy Family for guidance and meditate on the way in which they lived out their call to love and family.
May the Holy Family, a place of understanding and love, help you to make acts of solidarity, peace and forgiveness.In this way you will be heralds of the infinite love of God the Father, who is rich in mercy and goodness to all. Amen.
- The Holy Family Teaches Us What is Essential by JPII http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=2642
- Pope Benedict on the Feast of the Holy Family http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/on-the-feast-of-the-holy-family
- Fulton Sheen “The World’s Happiest Marriage” http://www.cin.org/saints/worlhapp.html