Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.  Twice in today’s Gospel (Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23) the angle of the Lord appears to Joseph and tells him: “Rise, take the child and his mother …” and Joseph quickly and obediently carries out the instruction.

I find it interesting that on this feast day, my own attention is drawn to the importance of parents being obedient to God’s instruction.  I am also captivated by the sensitivity of Joseph to the instruction of the Lord and the immediate manner in which he responds.

I remember as a kid the many times mom would have to call me away from the television to come to the dinner table or to do some household chore.  I could clearly hear her voice, I knew without a doubt what I was supposed to do, but I would often need a second calling or at times a more forceful direction!

As an adult, I continue to hear that inner voice of the Lord instructing me: “Do this.  Do that.  Don’t do that.”  And, at times I still like to linger rather than taking up the Lord’s calling with the immediacy and urgency of St. Joseph.

It seems one of the lessons for families on this feast of the Holy Family is that every member is called to be attentive to the voice of the Lord – to the promptings of the Holy Spirit – to the will of the Father.  Maturity in the spiritual life, as in family life, involves setting aside personal agendas for the good of others.  Maturity means a readiness and zeal for God’s work.

Healthy family life means loving others above self.  When every member of the family is attentive to the voice of God, there is ultimately unity and peace.  As St. Paul instructs: “Defer to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21)

We all know that we are imperfect, and at any given time one or more members of the family can find it difficult to break out of a personal funk or selfishness.  They need the patience, love and understanding of the other members.  At times, they may even need the tough love of the same members to help them ‘Rise’ out of their present state, break out of their ‘inner world’ and follow the Lord.  Very often the best way to break out of a bad attitude is to focus on the needs of others.

We also know that the Lord is always calling us.  Just as a child is attentive to the voice of her parents, we need to be attentive to the direction of God for our lives.

Mary and Joseph were attentive and obedient to God’s plan for their lives and the life of their family.  Let us pray for parents today to be attentive and obedient to God for the lives of families today.

As the shepherds and magi found Jesus with Mary and Joseph, so may Jesus be found in each of our families and homes today.  As the Holy Family was always ready with an immediate and urgent response to God’s will, may families today grow in such maturity and sensitivity.

“Rise, take the child and his mother …”


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