Sunday, December 27, 2009

Learning in the School of Nazareth: Feast of the Holy Family

By Deacon Keith Fournier
Catholic Online (

From antiquity the Christian family has rightly been called a domestic church. In our family we can learn the way of selfless love in the School of Nazareth.

Jesus spent 30 of his 33 earthly years in Nazareth. Some spiritual writers have called these the 'hidden years', because there is so little written about them in the Gospel narratives. However, they reveal the holiness of ordinary life and show us how it becomes extraordinary for those baptized into Christ.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (Catholic Online) - The Epistle reading for our Sunday Liturgy on this Feast of the Holy Family includes these words from the Apostle Paul: “Brothers and sisters: Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection.” (Colossians 3)

During the Octave (eight days) of Christmas we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. The significance of the Feast unfolds when we come to understand the deeper truths it reveals, about Jesus, Mary, Joseph, each one of us and our own families. Through our Baptism, we are invited to live our lives in Christ by living them in the Church - which is the Risen Body of Christ. The Church is the place where we learn, as the Apostle Paul reminded the Colossian Christians, to “put on love, that is, the bond of perfection”.

The Christian family is the first cell of the whole Church. It is the place where we begin the journey toward holiness and become more fully human. The Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ, became one of us. He was born into a human family. That was neither accidental nor incidental. There, in what Pope Paul VI called the “School of Nazareth”, we learn the way of love. The late Pope’s reflection called “the Example of Nazareth” is in the Office of Readings for the Liturgy of the Hours (the breviary) for today’s’ feast.

Every moment of his time among us Jesus was saving the world, re-creating it from within. To use a word from the early Church Father and Bishop St. Ireneaus, he was "recapitulating" the entire human experience. There, in the holy habitation of Nazareth, He forever transformed family life. Now, He teaches us how to live in His presence, if we enroll in the “School of Nazareth”.

See also today from Deacon Fournier, "Feast of the Holy Innocents: No to Funding Abortion in Health Care. Stop Killing Children!."


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