Today we celebrate the feast day of the Holy Family of Nazareth: Joseph, Mary and Jesus who lived together as a family unit in Nazareth. Jesus was born in the royal city of Bethlehem but raised in the obscure village of Nazareth after the return from Egypt. God deemed it necessary, vital even, that the holy Son of God humble himself and experience the domestic reality of family life that most human beings are raised in.
The Holy Family of Nazareth was the ultimate holy household. We can idealize this state, if we like, but the reality was probably like every family since time immemorial. Jesus would have been familiar with household chores, would have seen his father Joseph strive to make a living and would have witnessed first hand Mary’s management of domestic tasks. These are the nuts and bolts, if you like, which keep a family together. He would also, of course, have learnt to be a devout Jew, adhering to the Torah and loving the Lord his God with all his heart, strength, soul and mind.
How was this household different from others? We know very little about Jesus’ home life and can really only assume and conjecture. We do know that when aged only twelve he went missing for a few days and caused his parents untold grief and suffering. His response to their anxiety on finding him was that he had to be about his Father’s business (Luke 2:49). Jesus was no ordinary child, that is for sure.
Politicians and governments since the beginning of time have recognized and understood the family as the basic cell, the fundamental building block, if you like, of a stable human society. The Church, too, has always taught this. The Catechism firmly states, for example, ‘A man and woman united in marriage, together with their children, form a family’ (para. 2202). Never before has the family, as defined by the Church, been under such attack as it is today. What constitutes a twenty-first-century family has wide and varied definitions. The clamour for same-sex marriage is growing. However, this should not prevent us from upholding the truth that God’s plan for marriage and family life is holy and sacred and that we must cherish and honour it. (Bible Alive)
`Through God’s mysterious design, it was in that family [the Holy Family] that the Son of God spent years of a hidden life. It is therefore the prototype and example for all Christian families.’ (Pope John Paul II)