The Shining Example of the Holy Family

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The following homily was delivered by Bishop Rhoades at a Vigil Mass for the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph Dec. 29:

When we think of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, we think of the ideal family. In fact, in the Collect of this Mass, we prayed that we may imitate the shining example of the Holy Family. Yes, it was an ideal family when it came to practicing the virtues of family life and being a family united in a beautiful love for one another.

Jesus certainly honored His father Joseph and revered His mother Mary, fulfilling the counsel we heard in our first reading from the Book of Sirach. The Holy Family certainly was filled with the virtues listed by St. Paul in the second reading from his letter to the Colossians: heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, … and, above all, love. Yes, we can speak of the family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph as ideal in the sense of being truly holy, a reflection of the holiness of God, the family of the Most Blessed Trinity.

At the same time, we should not idealize the Holy Family in the sense of it being immune from the trials and sufferings of life. It was not. The Holy Family experienced incredible hardships, beginning with their trip to Bethlehem with Mary pregnant and then finding no room in the inn when she was about to give birth. The Holy Family knew poverty and homelessness. And they experienced terrible danger, as we heard in the Gospel today.

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Cropped image of Giotto’s Flight into Egypt, between 1304 and 1306.

The paranoid King Herod, who had already killed his own wife, his mother-in-law and his