Fr. Tom Marti, MM, reflects on how the love experienced in the family forms us for the mission of spreading God's love.
With the Feast of the Holy Family, we continue celebrating Christmas and exploring its significance. In celebrating Christmas, we are reflecting on more than just merely the physical birth of Jesus – we celebrate God’s loving intervention in the history of the world.
In celebrating today’s feast we recall the significance of the lives of Mary and Joseph for Jesus’s spiritual, physical, and psychological growth and development. They played a prominent role in the growth and development of Jesus, the Son of God. It was through the love that Jesus experienced in his family, the love that Mary and Joseph had for him, that he first came to know the love of God.
We are now beneficiaries of this love and are exhorted by Jesus to share it with the world in which we live as our missionary responsibility. Pope Francis underlined the importance of this mission mandate in his World Mission Mandate for 2013, when he recalled the teaching of the Second Vatican Council which emphasized in a special way how the missionary task, that of broadening the boundaries of faith, belongs to every baptized person and all Christian communities.
Pope Francis relates our call to mission with Mary, the Mother of Jesus: “She conceived Jesus by the work of the Holy Spirit, and every Christian, each one of us, is called to welcome the Word of God, to welcome Jesus in ourselves (as Mary did) and then bring Him to everyone. The one who encounters Jesus Christ feels the impulse to witness him or give witness of what he or she has encountered, and this is the Christian calling – to go and give witness!”
I will conclude by recalling moving prayers attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi, as we renew our commitment to this baptismal mission and reflect on the love of the Holy Family. We pray for the gifts of pardon and love and to be instruments of peace:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light, and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.