Family love today through the witness of the Holy Family

February 28, 2017

Raising youth in today’s culture can be challenging in varied circumstances or situations.

How many times have we heard raising children “does not come with a manual?” However, we might be reminded that the Holy Family, though having lived in very different and distant times, provides insight by which to raise children in today’s culture and time. Mary and Joseph were givers of love, models of obedience, and examples of devout faith. How does the Holy Family’s example support parenting in today’s family, culture and community?

In 2015, the World Meeting of Families in the United States reminded us the greatest gift a child can be given is their parents’ sharing of love rooted in obedience to God’s law in marriage. This communion requires trust — in God and trust in each other. 

In the Gospel of Matthew 1:20, the Angel of God tells Joseph not to be afraid to take his wife into his home, and that the impending birth of his Son is of the Holy Spirit. We also recall Mary traveling to see her cousin Elizabeth, and the beautiful prayer of praise, the Magnificat of Mary, to the Mother of the Lord. They completely trusted in God with their “yes.” As a result of this great love and trust, Joseph enjoyed protection for his Son and Mary, who enjoyed being with her Son from His conception, birth, infancy, childhood and adulthood. Is this not a great joy for the family? When all else is considered, joy in family is the greatest gift.

Parents today can have that same trust Mary and Joseph had in God, and in each other as a tool for raising children that will healthily grow and experience the world they live in. Parents who trust in God and make their family decisions together are modeling an authority that loves, and provides wellness, comfort and security. This modeling helps youth learn to make their own decisions and assess good environments to join in the community. It empowers youth to give back, extending care and love that welcome family, friends and the larger community.

As a young person, my parents were always a part of that welcoming through their interaction with my friends. My dad would take time to come greet and ask questions that showed interest in my friend’s life. My mother always was available to provide them with a snack or take them back to their home. This extended a trust and hospitality to my friends. They knew my parents as a loving authority. Good parents model obedience in the home through their principles, not as a way of restricting, but as a loving guide for keeping their family safe and well. 

In other examples of Joseph as father, he is obedient to God when the Angel tells him to take his wife to his home. In the narrative of the flight to Egypt, Joseph relocates his family in order to save their Child Jesus from Herod (Matt. 2:13). A final example found in the Gospel of Luke (3:51) tells us Jesus also submits to his earthly parents as He always submitted to His heavenly Father, “And He went down with them to Nazareth, and as obedient to them.”

The Gospel of Luke also reveals the devotion of the Holy Family as faithful observers of the law of the Lord. We recall the story of the presentation of Jesus in the temple “according to the law of Moses,” the circumcision and naming of Jesus and further the narrative of the Boy Jesus in the temple every year the family attended the feast of the Passover to celebrate their devotion to God in this festival of freedom.

The Holy Family’s model of love, obedience and devotion to God in their family life is a beautiful model for parents to impress and impart upon their children. This beauty and sacrifice of love is one that will yield great fruit in family and extend as gift for the community as whole. 
Do you recall great family gifts or experiences you have enjoyed through your own parenting with the gifts of love, obedience and devotion to God? 

Norma Torok is an associate director with the Archdiocesan Office of Adolescent Catechesis and Evangelization.