Today is the Feast of the Holy Family. I know a lot of our families aren’t very holy. Mine certainly isn’t. It’s important to remember that for thirty years of His life, Jesus Christ lived as a regular boy, in a family with a foster father and biological mother, and eventually without a foster father at all. The Holy Family was poor, spent several years in exile as refugees because a power mad despot wanted to kill Him, and even when they returned to their homeland, they couldn’t return to the city of David, but had to remove to Galilee (a provincial backwater of a provincial backwater). Joseph worked in heavy carpentry, which could translate to construction work in our time, and they essentially lived the life of a poor family of migrant workers today, with Jesus working alongside Joseph.
I think it is important to remember because God could have chosen any life for His Son on Earth. Jesus could have provided that Mary be a Queen on Earth, surrounded by pomp and luxury – that Joseph be an Emperor – whatever. Jesus chose to come down not into perfection, polish, or posh. He chose to enter our mess. Our messy little lives that can seem so pointless and empty and dull. It was into this kind of life that He was born, because God has never believed our lives to be pointless, empty, or dull. “I know the plans I have for you, plans for your welfare, and not for your woe, to give you a future of hope,” He says in Jeremiah (29:11). And in being born to us in poverty like us, in times of darkness and doubt like ours, in wretched conditions which most of us would find unbearable – maybe do find unbearable and yet bear – He is saying very simply, “I am with you, always” (Mt. 28:20).
So on this day, in this night, may God bless all our families with the gift of His Son. May Christ be born again in our hearts this Christmastide – that we might love Him as our own, and love one another just a little more. God is with us – our Emmanuel.