The Gospel according to Matthew (2:13-15, 19-23)
When the magi had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.” Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled, Out of Egypt I called my son. When Herod had died, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” He rose, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go back there. And because he had been warned in a dream, he departed for the region of Galilee. He went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, He shall be called a Nazorean.
Reflection: Today we honor family life in general by pausing to ponder the particular and beautiful hidden life within the home of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. In many ways, their daily life together would have been very similar to other families at that time. But in other ways, their life together is entirely unique and provides us with a perfect model for all families.
By God’s providence and design, the family life of Jesus, Mary and Joseph was spoken of in the Scripture very little. We read of the birth of Jesus, the presentation in the Temple, the flight into Egypt and the finding of Jesus in the Temple at age twelve. But other than these stories of their life together, we know very little.
The line from today’s Gospel quoted above does, however, give us some insight worth pondering. First, we see that this family “fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord…” Though this is in reference to Jesus being presented in the Temple, it should also be understood to apply to all aspects of their life together. Family life, just like our individual lives, must be ordered by the laws of our Lord.
The primary law of the Lord regarding family life is that it must share in the very unity and “communion of love” found in the life of the Most Holy Trinity. Each person of the Holy Trinity has perfect respect for the other, gives selflessly to each other without reserve, and receives each person in their totality. It is their love that makes them one and enables them to act together in perfect harmony as a communion of divine Persons. Though Saint Joseph was not immaculate in his nature, the perfection of love did live in his divine Son and in his immaculate wife. This overwhelming gift of their perfect love would have daily drawn him into the perfection of their lives.
Ponder your own closest relationships today. If you are blessed with a close family, ponder them. If not, ponder the persons put into your life who you are called to love with familial love. Who are you to be there for in good times and in bad? Who are you to sacrifice your life for without reserve? Who are you to offer respect, compassion, time, energy, mercy, generosity, and every other virtue? And how well do you fulfill this duty of love?
Action of the Day: Reflect, today, upon the fact that God wants you to share in a communion of life, not only with the Most Holy Trinity but also with those around you, especially your family. Try to ponder the hidden life of Jesus, Mary and Joseph and seek to make their family relationship the model for how you love others. May their perfect communion of love be a model for us all.