How can we connect the theme of the Holy Family with our annual thanksgiving? It is worth looking at, first, the theological content, then what our ‘emotional intelligence’ is saying.
Today’s feast celebrates the human family unit, as well as the ultimate family unit: Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. The Feast of the Holy Family is not just about the Holy Family, but about our own families too. The main purpose of the feast is to present the Holy Family as the model for all Christian families, and for domestic life in general. We celebrate the ‘dialectic’ of grace: our family life becomes sanctified when we live the life of the Church within our homes. This is called the "domestic church" or the "church in miniature." St. John Chrysostom urged all Christians to make each home a "family church." And in doing so, we sanctify the family unit.
Just how does one live out the Church in the family? The best way is by making Christ the center of family and individual life. Ways to do this include: reading scripture regularly, praying daily, attending Mass at least on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, imitating the actions of the Holy Family, receiving the Sacraments frequently, all done together as a family unit. Just as parenting requires effort and sacrifice, living as a Christian family is a similar toiling but hugely rewarding work. And the good news is that it does not matter if one lives in a single household. In the ‘church family’ we are always partners of grace.
Let us also look at the ‘emotional content’ of the feast when we relate it to our annual thanksgiving. Of course, we are giving thanks for the many gifts of God from the past year. Our health, our work, the time we enjoyed together, and the things we used, which sustained our lives. Today, we are gathered again around the Crib, with the Holy Family. So let the message to our ‘emotional intelligence’ come through. What are we giving thanks for at the end of the year – as individuals and as a ‘Church family’? And this message is the miracle of the Crib. Our thanksgiving is guided by how the members of the Holy Family look upon each other. Let us pause for a second, and connect our hearts with Mary, Joseph, and the Baby Jesus. (…) In the light of their love for each other. Let our heart speak and pray.
So personally, this light has taught me to see all of us as ‘extended’ members of the Holy Family. Today I most of all give thanks for incredible gifts of the member of this congregation. Today, as your priest, I can realise and see clearly how much extraordinary talent, experience of life, and goodness is in you. I am really amazed and humbled by the love and faith you have for Jesus, and each other, and for our community.
I am sure, that our hearts have said the same or similar prayer in front of our mirror, the Crib with the Holy Family. If this vision gets blurred, if we our confidence in our or other’s goodness is fading, no worries. In those moments, let us reconnect with the ‘mental image’ of the feast. Let us recall this crib in front of us and let us listen to the prayer it has taught our hearts today.
These are verbal Icons, expressions of how the world is seen from Saint Augustine's..