22. Dec, 2017

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

Faith Brings Joy and Guarantees Marital Success 

GN 15:1-6; 21:1-3 PS 105:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9 HEB 11:8, 11-12, 17-19

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, he has spoken to us through the Son.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 2:22-40

Today is the feast of the Holy Family. Kindness, humility, patience, obedience, honouring mother/father, forgiveness – these are all virtues needed within the family. But even more deeply rooted within the union of a family, is companionship between the spouses, and the spouses and their God.

It is said that “if a man and a woman marry in order to be companions on their journey toward Heaven, then their union will bring them great joy” (St John Chrysostom). The readings tell of the companionship of two couples, two holy families, that journey towards heaven amidst great drama. But, precisely in this drama they found God’s will, new life, and joy. So we ask: What is it that guarantees the enduring companionship between man and wife? What guaranteed the success of a marriage amidst so many trials?

First, we hear about the long-suffering of Abraham and Sarah. They lived most of their lives wondering if God was going to make good on his promise of offspring. It seemed ridiculous that Abrahams’ ancestors were going to outnumber the stars when Sarah was seemingly too old for childbirth. Hence, it was their faith that was the rock from which their companionship was forged.

Although at times a burden, their fidelity to God and to one another eventually brought blessings beyond their imagination. I mean that Abraham was to kill his son Isaac in good faith, certainly represented a burden. Abraham and Sarah had waited so many years for their son Isaac, yet the promise was seemingly to be taken from them. When tested it was through faith that “figuratively speaking, [Abraham and Sarah were] given Isaac back from the dead.” What a story of companionship, faith, union, sorrow, blessing and ultimately, joy. What a story of holiness.

The story of Mary and Joseph also revealed how they also endured many hardships. Even before Jesus was born Joseph had to trust in God to take Mary as his wife. Mary was pregnant! It was faith that enabled them to enter matrimony and become intimate partners who were to share the whole of their lives together. This faith perfected their love, preparing them to be the parents of the Son of God. And as we know, the fruit of their holy love –Jesus– was destined to be rejected which would pierce the soul of Mary. But we also know that the fruit of the union of the Holy Family, Jesus, brought salvation and everlasting joy to many.

So, come what may, it holds true that if a man and a woman marry in order to be companions on their journey toward Heaven, then their union will bring them great joy. But the source of this joy is their fidelity to each other and to God. This brings holiness and God’s blessings.

On the journey of matrimonial life, faith is what brings holiness and joy. Faith is what guarantees the success of marital companionship. On this feast of the Holy Family, let us pray for all married couples that their faith may not fail, and their joy may be complete. Amen.