Feast of the Holy Family (December 31, 2023)


The Holy Family of Nazareth in Today’s World

​Today, the church celebrates the feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Today’s feast calls us to look at this beautiful human family and strive to see how we can conform our own families with the help of God’s grace into the likeness of theirs. 

​There are many things we can learn from this family and one of them is the spiritual life of the family as a whole and the spiritual life of each member of the family. I believe that if Joseph and Mary were spiritually and morally impoverished, that is to say, if they did not strive to grow in their faith if they did not make room for advancement in their relationship with God, and if they did not allow their faith to influence every aspect of their life, they would not have been able to raise Jesus in the fear and love of God. Although we can appeal to the fact that Jesus is God incarnate and it is also true that grace was very much at work in the holy family of Nazareth, we must not forget that every member of the holy family did not take for granted their spiritual life. It is most certain that they did not only pray as a family but they must have also prayed individually. Jesus certainly would have learned how to pray like the Jews of his time by observing the way Mary and Joseph prayed and how they practiced their faith. Truly Man as Jesus is, he grew in human knowledge as does every human.

​It is truly praiseworthy to see the sacrifices parents make for the well-being and comfort of their children. The lengths fathers would go to put food on the table of the family and the sleepless nights of mothers when they have to nurse their babies or a sick child. While parents deserve nothing but gratitude and praise for all they do for the upkeep of their families, one can also hope that the same effort is exerted in the spiritual and moral life of their families. Just like Mary and Joseph, do parents today teach their children how to pray? Do parents still make time to nurture their spiritual life as a couple and as individuals? Do they remember to include a pilgrimage to a holy site as they also plan for a holiday vacation? Do parents remember to take their children to confession and mass just they are eager to take them to school or for their dental appointment? Are parents convinced of their faith and based on that conviction, do they allow it to influence their thoughts, words, actions, and choices including choice of friends, and recreation yes even the very petty insignificant aspects of everyday life? 

​If parents are spiritually bankrupt, it will affect the moral and spiritual life of their family. When God is a transient guest in the hearts of parents or even worse, an unwelcome visitor, it will not be a surprise if he will be a stranger to the children in that family. Balance is therefore necessary. The care for the material well-being of the family must not be at the expense of the spiritual needs of the family. if we want our families to be like the family of Nazareth, then each member of our family must begin to strive to live like each member of the holy family, father like Joseph, mother like Mary, and children like Jesus. This can be achieved by striving for the mean between the needs of the body and the needs of the soul. Perhaps this could be included in our New Year’s resolution. Give it a try and let us see how things play out at the end of the new year. 

May God bless us all, Amen.

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Ifeanyichukwu Maximillian Omem

Fray Ifeanyichukwu Maximillian Omem OAR