On this day of Christmas, my True Lord gave to me—the Feast of the Holy Family!
Not only is today the annual celebration of this special day honoring Jesus, Mary, and Joseph as the exemplary “domestic church,” the church of the home, but this year, the Jubilee Year of Mercy, offers another surprise.
Today, Pope Francis celebrates the Jubilee of Mercy for Families with a Mass for families in St. Peter’s Basilica.
One might think our Holy Father would be “familied-out” by now, right? In just about a year’s time, he has presided over two bishops’ synods on the family, the World Meeting of Families, and gave a whole series of teachings on the family during his regular Wednesday papal audiences. But not Pope Francis. He understands just how crucial it is to have strong and spiritually healthy—and prayer-filled—Catholic families. He has reminded us that “God forgives all—and God forgives always,” not just as a general reminder for the Jubilee Year of Mercy, but I’d venture to say that it is an important practical reminder of how we need to imitate God’s abundant mercy in daily family life.
Sometimes the Christmas holidays challenge us precisely in this way, because we get together with family members beyond our own households and must be prepared, often, to extend mercy and charity to all and always.
On this the celebration of the one family that likely got this more “right” than any other family ever—the Holy Family—let’s take a moment to consider how well we’ve responded to this reminder to extend mercy to those around us. Still got work to do? That’s okay—God’s not done with us yet. On this day of Christmas and all the days beyond, we’re given the opportunity to practice mercy, until we’ve perfected our practice!
As further encouragement, our Holy Father Pope Francis, the “papa” of the universal domestic church, has given us this prayer to pray together, something he composed in 2013 prior to the Synod of Bishops on the Family. Maybe today we can pray these words as families united in faith, and keep this beautiful prayer nearby for all the days that fall between this year and next year’s Holy Family celebration. God bless you and your domestic church!
Jesus, Mary and Joseph, in you we contemplate
the splendor of true love, to you we turn with trust.
Holy Family of Nazareth, grant that our families too
may be places of communion and prayer, authentic schools of the Gospel
and small domestic Churches.
Holy Family of Nazareth,
may families never again experience violence, rejection and division:
may all who have been hurt or scandalized find ready comfort and healing.
Holy Family of Nazareth…
make us once more mindful of the sacredness and inviolability of the family,
and its beauty in God’s plan.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
graciously hear our prayer.
This is the second in a 12-day series of posts with the purpose of helping readers deepen their appreciation for, and celebration of, the 12 Days of Christmas, a season which traditionally concludes with the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6th.