Honoring the Holy Family at the Basilica

On December 29, we observe the Feast of the Holy Family, honoring Mary, Joseph, and Jesus, and seek to imitate the model of a Christian family they exemplify. Today we reflect on the story of the Holy Family and what it means to live as a Christian family.

Learning from the Story of Mary and Joseph

Mary and Joseph’s early years with Jesus were marked by their flight into Egypt after the angel warned them that Herod intended to kill all children under the age of two (Matthew 2:13-15). When Jesus grew older, they presented him in the temple, expressing their intention to train him in the ways of the Lord and follow his law (Luke 2:22-38). Likewise, Christian families should travel through life’s difficulties together, and encourage their children in honoring the Lord. As Pope Francis has said:

How important it is for our families to journey together towards a single goal! We know that we have a road to travel together; a road along which we encounter difficulties but also enjoy moments of joy and consolation. And on this pilgrimage of life we also share in moments of prayer.

Children Are a Blessing

Children are a blessing from God, as the Scriptures proclaim:

3 John 4
Nothing gives me greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

Proverbs 17:6
Children’s children are the crown of the elderly,
and the glory of children is their parentage.

Psalm 127:3-5
Certainly sons are a gift from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb, a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the sons born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man who has filled his quiver with them.
He will never be shamed…

God’s Presence Grants Joy to Families

The Holy Family at Rest depicted in bronze in the Basilica

Christian families experience joy when God is present with them. Where God is, there is also true joy, and an opportunity to share his love with each other. As Pope Francis remarked:

Dear families, you know very well that the true joy which we experience in the family is not superficial; it does not come from material objects, from the fact that everything seems to be going well… The basis of [a] feeling of deep joy is the presence of God, the presence of God in the family and his love, which is welcoming, merciful, and respectful towards all… God alone knows how to create harmony from differences. But if God’s love is lacking, the family loses its harmony, self-centeredness prevails and joy fades. But the family which experiences the joy of faith communicates it naturally. That family is the salt of the earth and the light of the world, it is the leaven of society as a whole.

Families Display Understanding

Christian families should treat each other with understanding and forgiveness. As Pope Francis said:

Let us not lose confidence in the family! It is beautiful when we can always open our hearts to one another and hide nothing. Where there is love, there is also understanding and forgiveness. To all of you, dear families, I entrust this most important mission – the domestic pilgrimage of daily family life – which the world and the Church need, now more than ever.

Let us request the intercession of the Holy Family to help all families show understanding, peace, and love:

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
in you we contemplate
the splendour of true love,
to you we turn with trust.

Holy Family of Nazareth,
grant that our families too
may be places of communion and prayer,
authentic schools of the Gospel
and small domestic Churches.

Holy Family of Nazareth,
may families never again
experience violence, rejection and division:
may all who have been hurt or scandalized
find ready comfort and healing.

Holy Family of Nazareth,
may the approaching Synod of Bishops
make us once more mindful
of the sacredness and inviolability of the family,
and its beauty in God’s plan.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
graciously hear our prayer.

The Basilica honors the Holy Family in the Holy Family Oratory and the Holy Family at Rest Oratory

Celebrating a New Year and God's Renewal
Who was “the disciple Jesus loved”?