THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH

Her Doctrine and Morals

Feast of the Holy Family

7 January 2018

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Dear Friends,

The Holy Family is placed before our eyes today so that we may be inspired with God's goodness in the many mysteries that surround them, as well as to move us to humbly imitate and follow them.

St. Bernard directs our thoughts first to the Blessed Virgin Mother Mary. We are left awe inspired when we consider the mystery that encircles her. What is to be more admired, that a virgin is fruitful, or that a Mother is and remains a virgin? What a mystery for us to admire, love, and praise! Words fail to explain. Yet, this is not all. Let us consider Who is the Fruit of the Virgin Mother and we are even more amazed. It is not any child that she bore, but is God Himself — the Son of God — the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. This virgin is not just a mother, but The Mother of God.

In considering the Fruit of her womb, we see that Jesus Christ is true God and true Man. The human Body of Jesus is really the Body of God. There is one Person in Jesus with two Natures. Mary gave birth not only to the human nature of Jesus, but both Natures of Jesus in One Person. Jesus is not a man Who became God. Jesus is God from the very moment of His Conception — God made Man. Since Jesus is true God and true Man and the Natures are inseparable, one from the other, The Church clearly defines that Mary is the Mother of God. It is God that she carried for nine months in her womb. It is God that she nursed at her breast. It is God that she clothed, sheltered, bathed, and cared for as every mother does for her child. It is God that she directed as His mother, and it is God that obeyed her as His Mother.

What dignity there is in this virgin mother, but it is accompanied by the profoundest humility. The greatest honor and dignity were hers, and she was probably the only one that could truly appreciate what God had given her — what He has done to her; but she had to humbly keep all this hidden from the eyes of men. She had to suffer greatly because the world knew nothing of the treasure that was hers. Then when the world began to perceive Who Jesus is, they rejected Him and sought to kill Him — thus, adding even greater humiliation, suffering, and sorrow to our Holy Virgin Mother.

What mystery of majesty and humility we find in the Divine Son — Jesus! He comes down from Heaven. Heaven where He is honored, glorified and praised by angels. Jesus set this all aside and hid His Divine Nature from Man; humbly consenting to appear as Man among men. What is more mysterious and wonderful — the Divinity of Jesus or the humility of His Humanity? Not only did He consent to appear as a Man, but He chose to be the poorest of the poor — He chose to be a helpless and vulnerable infant — to be dependent upon Mary and Joseph for all things necessary for the preservation and development of His Human Life.

We find that the mystery and wonder continue in St. Joseph, the foster father of God. St. Joseph was a poor humble carpenter, but was charged with the care, support, and protection of the Virgin Mother and her Divine Son. In Mary, we find the Mother God, in St. Joseph, we find the true husband of Mary and the foster father of God. Mary did not hesitate to refer to St. Joseph as the father of Jesus. "Thy father and I were seeking Thee sorrowing." The Gospel tells us that Jesus came down to Nazareth with them and was subject to them. God was subject to both Mary and Joseph. What honor to them, that God submits and obeys them! Likewise, how humbling to them!

What shame to us, when we find it so difficult to submit ourselves to any power or authority placed over us! What command is too humiliating to us when we have been given the humble example of God, Himself?

The last mystery that we should consider, is that we have been united to this Holy Family — we have been incorporated by our baptism into this family. One with Jesus in the Mystical Body, we find Mary is our mother and St. Joseph is our foster father. We are honored and privileged to call them our mother and father; to call Jesus our Brother. Our God, Our Lord, Our Savior, has desired to be Our Brother! The mystery of His conception in the womb of the Virgin Mary is repeated within us when He asks us to receive Him in the Holy Eucharist! How humbling it was for Him to enter the pure and virginal womb of His Mother, but what even greater humiliation for Him to plead with us to let Him enter our miserable and sinful bodies! How humbling to God to become as a little child subject to Mary and Joseph — but what greater humiliation to present Himself to us in the Holy Eucharist. He is subject to the commands of human priests — subject to the wills of the faithful: bearing with those who assault Him by unworthily receiving Him in Holy Communion as quietly and passively as He enters into the most well prepared and loving souls. He bears obediently and humbly our insults and assaults upon Himself as meekly and patiently as He bore all the assaults of His Holy Passion and Death. God submits to men, so that we may be inspired to submit to Him.

May we savor these mysteries in our minds and hearts. How good God is towards us! How greatly He humbles Himself for us! What honor and privilege is ours when He presents Himself in the most vulnerable way imaginable! What confounding responsibility God has given us over Himself, in welcoming us into His Holy Family as well as into His Holy Body.

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