Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

Sunday, Dec. 31, 2023

Location: All Parishes

The Catechism of the Catholic Church quotes the 1964 homily of Pope Paul VI on the feast of the Holy Family: “May Nazareth teach us what family life is, its communion of love, its austere and simply beauty, and its sacred and inviolable character.” (no. 533)

And St. Pope John Paul II marveled at God's plan for the incarnation in his Dec., 31, 1978 homily: "The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem gave rise to this unique and exceptional family in the history of mankind. In this family there came into the world, grew and was brought up the Son of God, conceived and born of the virgin-mother, and at the same time entrusted, from the beginning, to the truly fatherly care of Joseph."

Gretchen Filz with the Catholic Company added to these reflections: "Part of the mystery of the incarnation is the fact that God not only became man, but that he joined himself to a human family. This reveals that God desires his human creatures — his image-bearers — to play essential roles in redemptive history. We rarely ponder how incredible this is!"

"Think about it for a moment: the Holy Trinity entrusted two humans with the tremendous role of raising one of its 'members' (astonishing!). The whole world could not contain God, yet he placed himself inside the womb of a human mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. God created angelic beings with the power to collapse the universe, yet He gave himself a lowly human father as a guardian and protector, St. Joseph."

Pope Francis pointed out how the holy family models how to treat each other in a family during the Angelus on the feast of the Holy Family on Dec. 29, 2013.

"Today our gaze on the holy family lets us also be drawn into the simplicity of the life they led in Nazareth. It is an example that does our families great good, helping them increasingly to become communities of love and reconciliation, in which tenderness, mutual help and mutual forgiveness is experienced. Let us remember the three key words for living in peace and joy in the family: 'may I,' 'thank you' and 'sorry.' In our family, when we are not intrusive and ask 'may I,' in our family when we are not selfish and learn to say 'thank you,' and when in a family one realizes he has done something wrong and knows how to say 'sorry,' in that family there is peace and joy."

"Let us fervently call upon Mary most holy, the Mother of Jesus and our mother, and St. Joseph her spouse. Let us ask them to enlighten, comfort and guide every family in the world, so that they may fulfill with dignity and peace the mission which God has entrusted to them," he said, concluding his talk before leading the prayer below.

Prayer to the Holy Family

This Prayer for the Synod on the Family was offered by Pope Francis during the Angelus on the feast of the Holy Family on Dec. 29, 2013.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
in you we contemplate
the splendour 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,
may the approaching Synod of Bishops
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.