We don’t spend too much time contemplating the humanity of Jesus. Perhaps this is because we are focused upon being thankful for the salvation that we have through him. Or perhaps it is because we tend to emphasize his divine nature, which is, of course, crucial. But, we should recall that it is the Divine Eternal and Only Son of God that took on human nature and was born in a manger. As well, the incarnate Second Person of the Trinity by being born as fully and truly human was born into a family. While we know nothing from sacred scripture about the inner workings and relationships of Christ’s family, we are well-served to recall that his life included familial relations. He was raised by mother Mary and an appointed adoptive father, Joseph. They nurtured, fed, and cared for him, as do all parents. He honored and learned (as a human boy) from them. The Word made flesh, through whom all things were made –even the need for, importance of, and structure within the family – blessed and sanctified this part of our human journey by being part of a family.
The Christian tradition has rightly named Joseph, Mary, and Jesus together the “Holy Family.” They are so-called obviously because the Divine Messiah was born into this family. However, the roles played by and the character shown by Joseph and, of course, Mary also contributed to the holiness of this household. Joseph, being willing to obey God and to see Jesus as a sacred trust from God (even though Jesus is unlike any other child or person) is an example of true godly fatherhood. Even though Jesus was not his offspring, Joseph provided, protected, and probably even instructed Jesus early on in his childhood in the Covenant of Moses and the teachings of the Torah. He is, therefore, truly a modely of human fatherhood in the most spiritual sense. Mary, while a virgin and bearing the miraculous Son of God, is also a model for women of godly motherhood. She saw herself as a handmaiden of the Lord, accepted God’s purpose for her life, and willingly embraced all the changes that being a mother would bring into her life, along with the blessings. Joseph and Mary in the Holy Family should remind all Christian parents that we are called to be holy families by our faith, obedience, and surrender to God. Our families are not first or foremost our own, but are to be examples of God’s own love and God’s own self-giving nature…for the world to see.
That Jesus was born into a family –and the very idea of the family was by the design of the Word through whom all things were made –must, as well, remind us that the nuclear family is a precious and important thing in God’s mind and purposes. Sadly, the disintegration of the family in the United States of America is well underway, but such an attack upon a godly institution should not surprise us. The world is sinful and the spiritual forces of evil in this fallen Creation seek to destroy human values, meaning, and dignity. For Christians, we cannot just bemoan this and complain about it. We must live out holiness of loving relationships of mutual respect and mutual honoring in the appropriate ways – parents to children and children to parents and husband to wife and wife to husband. Holiness lived in the world is always part of the cure for sinfulness. We must also build church ministries that are conducive to the integrity and spiritual growth of families – not merely the individuals in families. Finally, we must be people of prayer for families, first in our churches, but also in our communities.
Jesus was born into a Holy Family and made his family holy, so that all families who are united to his saving presence and holy nature by our faith might become holy. Be holy as he is holy. Be a holy family as his family was holy.