Here is an icon of the Holy Family of Nazareth.
Quietly we can stay with the Holy Family, it
is a house of prayer.
Here is Our Lady, gentle, she is not demanding
that we look at her, or confronting us with
our inadequacy. Her eyes are not focused on
Joseph her husband, or Jesus her son, but pondering
in her heart the words of God: The strange event
of the angel’s greeting, the visit with
Elizabeth, the longed for arrival of John and
the return of Zechariah’s voice. Her own
miraculous conception of her son and Joseph’s
acceptance, the journey to Bethlehem, the rejection
– no place at the inn - the remarkable
visit of the shepherds, their tale of the angels
then the arrival of the Magi. The flight into
Egypt, the Presentation in the Temple and the
words spoken of the future…
She is the mother of Jesus, Mother of God,
and in holding the hand of her son she gently
invites us to go to her son. She does not hold
him back. She gives him to us. She knows we
will hurt him, that we have hurt him, but she
knows too that this is not the end.
What strange things have happened in my life?
What has God given me in sufferings or in joys?
We can bring them to Mary, our mother, we can
ask her to help us to know her son. We can ask
her to help us to be gentle. We can try to learn
from her how to love her son, how to bring him
to our friends, our neighbours, our enemies.
Mary, help us to enter the quiet of your house.
Next to Mary is St Joseph, her spouse most
chaste. He does not take anything for himself.
He does not speak, his mouth is small. But his
eyes are big. He is the watchman. He looks out.
God gave him the vocation as Husband and Father.
When he had thought this was a mistake and thought
to divorce Mary informally, God intervened sending
a messenger, an angel to console him in a dream:
‘Do not be afraid…’
God has made him the guardian of His house,
of His Son. God in this vocation gave him special
gifts to defend the Holy Family and make difficult
decisions. His ears are big too, always ready
It is not by chance that Joseph died before
Jesus began his public mission. St Joseph was
the defender of the Holy Family. Who could touch
his son if he was alive?
St Joseph is the patron of a holy death. He
was attended by Jesus and Mary - who could have
died so well? St Joseph taught his adopted son
how to enter suffering, how to enter death.
Where else but here at the feet of His adopted
father could Jesus have learnt these things
St Joseph, help us to enter our vocation,
help us not to be afraid. Help us to trust God’s
plan for our life; that He has given us and
will continue to give us everything we need
to complete His Will. Intercede for us, that
we may be open to the inspiration of the Holy
Spirit as you were. Help us to obey, as you
obeyed the words of the angel without hesitation.
Defend us; defend the Church as you defended
your spouse, Mary. And at the last, St Joseph,
pray for us that we may have the grace of final
perseverance and a holy death.
Lastly, the child Jesus stands at the bottom
of the picture, in the middle waiting for us.
He rests his hand in that of His mother’s.
He places his trust in Mary and invites us to
place our trust in her too. He is little. Our
God has become Man and has become small for
us. We do not need to be afraid to draw near
to Him. He is not afraid of where he is to go.
He holds onto the staff of his adopted father,
taking from him the Cross, taking the authority
of His Heavenly Father, taking His Justice and
offering the Mercy of his gaze. He has his arms
uplifted, like Moses in the desert to give us
the victory over our enemies, our sins, and
raised in supplication like the priest at the
altar. Here is the priest, so little. Here is
the lamb, the pure victim, the spotless victim,
who takes away the sins of the world. He is
dressed in a white robe with two blue bands,
the robe of the philosopher, the teacher, he
comes to teach us how to live, how to die, how
to live to the full. He comes robed in gold,
in the glory of His Father, the brightness of
the Eternal Day to chase away the darkness that
clings to us.
He is little and he invites us to be little
too; Jesus, help me to want to be little.
He invites us to take him into our arms, to
tell him that we love him. To entrust everything
to this little one. How often have I ignored
Him… Jesus, I cannot go to the cross,
I am afraid. Help me to walk with you. Help
me to obey as you always obeyed you parents.
Jesus, teach me to live.
Sanctuary of the Trinity, Holy Family of Nazareth,
help me to contemplate your loving communion,
that this same communion may be evident in the
family; help me to sincerely love the family
that I was raised in, the family of people that
I live amongst and the family of God that I
have been baptised into; help me to recognise
the simple beauty of the family.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
grant us peace and preserve the family
See also the Holy Gospel according to St Luke.