My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,1
I hope that you are having a beautiful Christmas time, with your families and with your loved ones. And today, as we gather for our Sunday Eucharist, we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family.
As you know, the Christmas liturgical season just started on Christmas day, and lasts on until the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, this year — this coming year — on January 12th.
So we have plenty of time for rejoicing in the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
And of course, we want to keep this spirit of Christmas alive every day, all year — this spirit of giving and patience and mercy and love.
Today, we once again, reflect on the fact that our faith is a family faith. Because God’s plan of salvation is a family plan.
And you could say that our faith is born on Christmas and the birth of a child.
And then always on this first Sunday after Christmas, we celebrate the Child’s family: his mother Mary and her husband Joseph.
So God’s plan for creation, for the human race, is a plan of love. He wants to be our Father — your father and my father. He wants every person in whole world, in every time and every place, to know that he is our father. And that we are called to live as his children.
The readings of today’s Mass are beautiful. And precisely that message of being children of God is what we heard in the second reading of today’s Mass from St. John.
We heard those beautiful words: See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God!
And so we are!
So my dear brothers and sisters, God wants to make all our families, holy families. And through the witness of our families, God wants to bless all the peoples of the world and to make them into one holy family in his Church.
So our families have a great vocation, a great call, a great mission, in God’s plan for the human race.
In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of Sirach that the foundation of the family is the friendship of love.
So today, as we reflect on what families are supposed to be, what is God’s plan for humanity and God’s plan for our families, we need to ask for the grace to really understand the importance of this friendship of love.
So it is important that husbands and wives be good friends, first with each other, but also with their children. It is so essential for children never to forget that their best friends are their parents.
And friendship, as we know, means that parents have to establish a strong relationship with their children, both to be demanding and at the same time having an extraordinary affection for them.
They have to spend time with their children and come down to their way of doing things. Sometimes it is really challenging, especially nowadays with all of those electronic things out that are out there. It is even difficult to just communicate, isn’t it?
At the same time, parents need to find the way to make demands and set high goals and expectations for their children. And as we heard in today’s readings, children need to have the disposition of learning from their parents and obeying them.
As we heard in today’s passage of the Gospel, our Blessed Mother Mary and Joseph taught Jesus to love God and God’s law.
I think an important aspect of that friendship, and how that relationship between parents and children is that we all need to learn how to be close to God.
Mary and Joseph taught Jesus that. And obviously, as we heard, they also learned from Jesus. Beautiful lessons for us as we reflect on what God’s plan for humanity and for the family is.
So we have to make the beautiful truths of our faith and the habits of our devotions a natural and ordinary part of everyday family life.
It’s challenging because we all are busy. And family life sometimes is not that easy.
I wanted to share with you that just a few days ago, some friends of mine were talking to me, and they said to me: “Archbishop, you always talk about the beauty of the family,” and they said, “sometimes we don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Family life is challenging, but it’s true. We see it in today’s passage of the Gospel, Jesus kind of giving a hard to our Blessed Mother and St. Joseph — he just took off and they didn’t know where he was.
You can imagine how they were worrying about where he was, and they found him and he was like, nothing. He said, “don’t you understand that I’m supposed to be taking care of my father’s business” — the Gospel doesn’t say that.
It’s challenging, but then with my friends, I knew that they had just had a grandchild. So I told them, “don’t you just had a granddaughter? Isn’t that beautiful?” So I won.
The reality is that God’s plan is a beautiful plan and it is up to us to really find the way to make it happen in our lives.
So today, let us especially ask for the grace to be able to transform our families, in the reality of our daily life, a place where God is always present.
So it is also a challenge for us in the Church, because we have, as part of our mission, to help our brothers and sisters to discover the meaning of marriage and family life.
We need to find new ways to prepare men and women for the challenges of marriage and help them to try to live faithfully by the Church’s teaching and the grace of her Sacraments.
We have to help husbands and wives to live out God’s beautiful plan for their lives.
So it’s a beautiful plan, it is, as I said, up to us to make it a reality in our daily lives and also to have that mission to help many more people to understand that beautiful plan of God for each one of us and our families.
So, in this coming new year, which is the Year of Mercy, and as we try to be holy families, let’s try to really live mercy. Let’s make Jesus Christ the center of our homes and our daily lives.
We need to try to rediscover real friendship in our homes, finding the way to spend more time together to be with our families. And let us make a new effort in our families to respect one another — and most importantly, to forgive one another as our heavenly father forgives us.
But we all know the love and protection of Mary the Mother of God, St. Joseph her most chaste spouse, and Jesus Christ who is the Prince of Peace.
1. Readings (Solemnity of the Holy Family, Year C): Sir. 3:2-6, 12-14; Ps. 128:1-5; 1 John 3:1-2, 21-24; Luke 2:41-52.