What you (and your family) can learn from the Holy Family

Photo by Anna Pritchard on Unsplash

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Jesus’ mother, Mary, was conceived without sin. Her husband, Joseph, was a saint. Jesus’s grandparents, on his mother’s side, Joachim and Anne, are also saints. By the way, the names Joachim and Anne do not appear in the Gospels. These are the names that tradition gives us for Mary’s parents, both of whom were supposedly from Sepphoris, a large town not far from Nazareth. So Jesus, Mary and Joseph make up what we call the “Holy Family,” whose feast we celebrate this week. But did you ever think about the rest of Jesus’s family? His aunts and uncles, cousins, step-brothers and step-sisters and all the rest? They were probably ordinary people, living in Nazareth, which was a poor town with just about 200 to 400 people in Jesus’ time. They were probably regular people, not saints. Maybe not even especially holy. 

Why am I mentioning this? Because when we think about Jesus’s family, we usually think about just Mary and Joseph, and maybe Joachim and Anne. But apart from them, Jesus was born into a regular human family, a family that probably had quarrels and misunderstanding and tensions, like any family. Even the Holy Family had to deal with misunderstandings. At one point in the Gospels, after Jesus has left Nazareth and settled in Capernaum, by the Sea of Galilee, we are told that his family thought he was “out of his mind” and Mary and the rest of his family set out to “restrain” him. That’s quite a story. So when you pray to Jesus, Mary and Joseph, you are praying to the Son of God, to the Blessed Mother and to a saint. You’re also praying to three people who understand family life. Remember that the next time you struggle with something going on in your own family, whether your family is holy or on the way to holiness.

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