The Feast of the Holy Family (C)
Dear brothers and sisters,
I do not know if you have yet had a chance to begin reading Matthew Kelly’s new book, The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity or not, but he begins the book with an intriguing story of family life. A husband and father attempted to work from home preparing an important speech but kept being interrupted up his seven-year-old boy. In an effort to occupy the boy,
Picking up a magazine, he thumbed through the pages until he came to a large, brightly colored map of the world. He ripped the picture into dozens of pieces, and led his son into the living room. Then, tossing the pieces all over the floor, he announced, “Son, if you can put the map of the world together I will give you twenty dollars.”
Naturally, the boy set to work.
To the great surprise of his father, the boy returned after only a few minutes had passed by, with the map of the world restored. The father asked the boy how he completed the task so quickly.
The boy smiled and said, “You know, Dad, I had no idea what the map of the world looked lie, but as I was picking up the pieces, I noticed that on the back there was a picture of a man.” The father smiled, and the boy continued. “So, I put a sheet of paper down, and I put the picture of the man together, because I knew what the man looked like. I placed another sheet of paper on top, then holding them tightly I turned them both over.” He smiled again and exclaimed, “I figured, if I got the man right, the world would be right.”
As it is with the world, so it is with the family, not only with the man, but also with the woman; get them both right, and the family and the world will both be right.
While the secular society has already abandoned the celebration of the Lord’s Birth, we in the Church follow the example of Blessed Mary and, with her, keep all these things in our hearts, turning them over and asking what they mean (cf. Luke 2:51). So it is that today, on this sixth day of Christmas, we find ourselves contemplating what it means that the Lord chose to be born into a human family. How can we forget that
The first witnesses of Christ's birth, the shepherds, found themselves not only before the Infant Jesus but also a small family: mother, father, and newborn son [cf. Luke 2:16]. God had chosen to reveal himself by being born into a human family and the human family thus became an icon of God!
In our contemporary society, this new reality of the human family is far too often overlooked, even within Christian families. The family is an icon of God because the family is the first place where love is to be shared, received, and learned.
We can see here that the family is more than a practical human institution in which to raise children; it is that, of course, but it is so much more! Indeed, because
God is the Trinity, he is a communion of love; so is the family despite all the differences that exist between the Mystery of God and his human creature, an expression that reflects the unfathomable Mystery of God as Love.” In marriage the man and the woman, created in God's image, become "one flesh" (Gen 2:24), that is a communion of love that generates new life. The human family, in a certain sense, is an icon of the Trinity because of its interpersonal love and the fruitfulness of this love.
In God’s plan for us, men are fathers and women are mothers because they are first husbands and wives; children come from this loving union and from it, in the love shared between husband and wife, the children see a reflection of the love of the Triune God. Because we so often ignore God’s will for the beginning of the family, the often family suffers in many ways.
One way in the which family suffers in our society today is through an inordinate focus on the self. It is of the utmost importance that husbands love their wives more than themselves. Likewise, it is of the utmost importance that wives love their husbands more than themselves. In this way, they both imitate the love of Christ Jesus. If a husband lives more for himself than for his wife, he cannot show her a proper reflection of the love of God. If a wife lives more for herself than for her husband, she cannot show him a proper reflection of the love of God.
A second way in which the family suffers in our society today is through a distorted order within the family. If you ask most parents today what their most important role is, they will likely say their most important role is being a father or a mother. This is not correct. Their most important role is being a husband or a wife, by which they become a father or a mother. This is why it is of the utmost importance that a husband and wife put their married relationship before their children. This is not to say that parents should neglect their children; children cannot be ignored, but they come from the relationship of the husband and wife. If the relationship between the husband and wife fails, so, too, does the family fail, and if the family fails, society also fails. If we get the family right, we will get the world right. The relationship between husband and wife must be nurtured and sustained if the children are to see in their parents an icon of God’s own love.
Such a task is daunting and is not easy, which is to say that it is a sharing in the Cross of Christ, a sharing in the deepest and most perfect love. We know that “love alone enables us to live, and love is always also suffering: it matures in suffering and provides the strength to suffer for good without taking oneself into account at the actual moment.” Indeed, in Jesus Christ, “No longer is [love] self-seeking, a sinking in the intoxication of happiness; instead it seeks the good of the beloved: it becomes renunciation, and it is ready, and even willing, for sacrifice.”
It is this form of love, a love that always seeks union with the Cross of Christ, that a husband must share with his wife, that a wife must share with her husband, and that children must learn from their parents. In an overly busy society, we need to rediscover this fundamental reality of the Christian life. If we do, then, “in the face of the overwhelming problems in our world, we can wake each day and joyfully share God’s truth, goodness, and beauty with everyone who crosses our paths.” Amen.
 Matthew Kelly, The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity: How Modern Culture Is Robbing Billions of People of Happiness (North Palm Beach, Florida: Wellspring: 2018), 2.
 Ibid., 2-3.
 Pope Benedict XVI, Angelus Address, 27 December 2009.
 Ibid., Address to the Clergy of Aosta, 25 July 2005.
 Ibid., Deus caritas est, 6.
 Matthew Kelly, The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity, 43.