by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann
It is no mere coincidence that, in the church’s liturgical calendar, the Sunday following Christmas we celebrate the Holy Family.
The Son of God came into this world as a helpless infant born into a family. The first days, weeks, months and years of Jesus’ life were punctuated with dramatic events.
Angels announced his birth to shepherds in the field. The mysterious Magi made an arduous and lengthy journey to reverence and present gifts to the Infant King.
Joseph protected Jesus and Mary from the evil King Herod, who was obsessed with killing the child Jesus. The Holy Family became political refugees fleeing to Egypt.
Until it was safe to return to Nazareth, Joseph had to find a way to provide for Mary and Jesus in a strange land.
However, after these adventurous early years, the Gospels become silent about Our Lord’s life as a child, adolescent and young adult in Nazareth.
Luke gives us the only window into the boyhood years of Nazareth when he recorded the scare Jesus gave to Mary and Joseph when he remained behind in the Temple as his parents were returning to Galilee with their fellow Passover pilgrims.
Mary and Joseph find Jesus in the Temple astounding the teachers of the law by his perceptive questions and wise answers.
Luke concludes this narrative by writing that Jesus went with Mary and Joseph to Nazareth where he was obedient to them. Luke tells us that “Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man” (Lk 2:52).
We can conclude from the Gospels’ silence about Our Lord’s childhood and adolescent years that they were unremarkable.
We can justifiably assume that Jesus participated in the ordinary events of family life. We can also presume that Jesus received his formation in the Jewish faith from his family.
While recalling this week the importance of the Holy Family in God’s plan for our redemption, we also ponder the importance of the Christian family during these past 2,000 years in transmitting the faith across generations.
The family remains the most important and powerful social unit for the formation of the next generation in the Christian faith and moral code.
The foundation of the family is the faithful and fruitful love of husband and wife. It is this committed love that creates the optimum environment for the formation of happy, healthy and well-adjusted children.
For many, the most important contribution that they can make to the church and world is to devote time and energy to strengthening their marriage and family. Our nation, society and church depend upon the health and vitality of family life.
To find resources to help your marriage and family, search on our archdiocesan website (archkck.org) for The Joyful Marriage Project. This initiative of our marriage and family life office offers helpful information on how to strengthen both your marriage and family. The Joyful Marriage Project compares strengthening your family to building a “dream home.”
A well-constructed house needs a firm foundation. The foundation of Christian marriage is anchored in a strong prayer life. It is important to be able to pray as individuals but also as a married couple.
For a healthy Christian marriage, God has to be the foundation. We strengthen this foundation by regular and frequent prayer.
After a firm foundation, a dream home needs a well-designed structure. The Joyful Marriage Project helps connect you with resources to build a solid framework for your marriage and family to flourish. Workshops, date night opportunities and online resources are available to help make your familial relationships sturdy.
After a solid foundation and a strong structure, the next step in building your dream home is weatherproofing to protect it from the threats of life’s storms.
The Joyful Marriage Project offers retreat and support opportunities to prepare your marriage and family to be equipped to weather whatever adversities you may encounter.
Finally, once you built it, naturally you want to share the beauty and comfort of your dream home with others. The Joyful Marriage Project offers opportunities to help engaged couples prepare for marriage and/or to mentor young married couples.
Within the parish, there are a multitude of ways in which you can share the goodness and beauty of your marriage and family.
In addition to The Joyful Marriage Project, you can also Google the School of Love and/or the Messy Family Project to find more resources to renew and strengthen your marriage and family.
The most important gift parents can give their children is a mother who loves their father and a father who loves their mother and who together love their children.
Spending time on renewing your marriage will help you to be better parents and create in your home an atmosphere that will help your children thrive and develop fully their gifts and talents.
It is easy in our culture in an effort to provide your children with many wonderful opportunities and experiences to become overextended as a family. Family time can become scarce as you are constantly running children to various activities.
Archbishop Charles Chaput has said that parents are the bishops of their families, their domestic churches.
Pray over the possibility that during 2019 Our Lord is calling you to reclaim the family calendar by making sure that you have time as a family to eat together, have fun together and pray together.
This is the year to build your dream home!