Thursday, 15 January 2015

Feast of the Holy Family 11 Jan 2015

Holy Family 11.1.15 St Joseph

The Holy Family is the model for all families to imitate. It might seem, however, that so much holiness puts any serious imitation out of our reach.

My family is not like that! - we might say. Nor likely to become so.

If so much holiness seems inaccessible to us it might help if we approach from the nearest side.

Which of the three is the least holy, and therefore closest to us in terms of imitation? Is it not the humble Joseph, the one we mention least?

Joseph, although himself very holy, also has an approachable ordinariness about him.

If we focus on him it gives us a way of understanding where we can connect with the Holy Family.

Joseph was ordinary insofar as he had an ordinary job and did ordinary things, like being a carpenter.

He really had two ‘jobs’. One was to be a carpenter; the other to be the husband and father of the Holy Family! He was called to greatness and he achieved it, but still without attracting attention to himself.

It must have been easy to overlook him. When the people of Nazareth were trying to work out how Jesus came to have such knowledge they referred to Him as the ‘carpenter’s son’ (Mt 13,55)

So, to them, Joseph was just a carpenter, not one of the best people that has ever lived - as we now regard him.

What was the secret of his holiness? Simply that whatever God asked him to do he did it without hesitation and without complaint.

Four times he responded to messages from Heaven. Take Mary to be your wife; go to Egypt; come back from Egypt; live in Galilee (Mt 1 and Mt 2).

These things were not easy, but whether he understood or not he always did the right thing. It is always a good thing not to argue with God (cf today’s Gospel: Jesus being found in the temple. Mary and Joseph were not complaining; they were learning!)

This is what holiness is: to do the will of God, and quick!

And this is where we come in: we can follow the same principle. If God asks me to do something - however humble a task – if I do it cheerfully and promptly it becomes an action which will enable other good things to happen.

This was Joseph, and his good actions made it easier for the other two members of the Holy Family to do what they had to do.

A million people doing little things well, every day, will generate a lot of grace.

Our Lord told the apostles: if you want to be great, be a servant (Lk 22,26). It is the opposite of the usual worldly way.

The greater the disciple the more likely he is to prefer humble work, and as little as possible recognition.

So it comes to this: Be ordinary, be humble, be obedient; and do whatever we do for the glory of God.

This is the formula, and it will work in any family – at least to improve things. Any genuine holiness must have a good effect even if it is not immediately appreciated.

So we find that the Holy Family is accessible to us after all. They spent most of their time doing just ordinary things, but doing them to please God

We do not have to be intimidated by their greatness; we can operate on the same principle even if we will never do it as well as they did.

May Jesus, Mary and Joseph help us in our ordinariness to achieve all desired results, for now and eternity.

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