December 30 is the Feast Day of the Holy Family. This feast day appropriately falls within the 12 days of Christmas where we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Involved in the mystery of the Incarnation–where God joined to Himself human nature–is the mystery that God also joined to Himself a human family.
This reveals that God allows His human creatures, as bearing the image of God, to play very, very important roles in redemptive history. And God continues to use humans to play a role in redemptive history–particularly through the family.
The Holy Trinity entrusted two human beings with the tremendous role of being the human family of the Incarnate Second Person of the Trinity. God made the universe, yet placed Himself inside the womb of a human mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. God is the creator of powerful angelic beings, yet He gave Himself a human father as a guardian and protector, St. Joseph. That God throughout the ages invites humans into His grand story and uses them to accomplish His will is simply profound. Surely we can marvel with Mary in her Magnificat, “The Almighty has done great things for me” (Luke 1:46-55).
When we reflect on the nature of the Holy Trinity, we see that the human family–father, mother, and child–images the Divine. The Trinity is a unity of three Divine Persons, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, in One Divine Being. The inner life of the Trinity is one of total self-giving love between the Father and the Son, in such a way that the Holy Spirit, a Third Person, proceeds from their union. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father as the first principle and, by the eternal gift of this to the Son, from the communion of both the Father and the Son” (CCC, 264). The Person of the Holy Spirit eternally proceeds from the communion of the Person of the Father with the Person of the Son. When we reflect on this inner life of the Trinity, we now see why Genesis says that God created man and woman to be his image, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them (Genesis 1:27).
Husband and wife, in a one-flesh pro-creative union of self-giving persons in the bond of love, images the interior life of the Holy Trinity. It is not just individual man and woman that image the Trinity (in the unity of body, soul, and spirit), but in a yet more perfect way men and women together, because together they form a union of love from which proceeds a third person, their child. Thus all three persons in the human family, mother, father, and child, are wrapped with a bond of self-giving love–and in this way they image the Trinity. And just as this love is continually self-giving and pro-creative in the Trinity, so husbands and wives are continually self-giving and procreative. The Incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, into a human family sheds further light on this profound imagery. In the words of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, “God wished to reveal Himself by being born in a human family, and hence the human family has become an icon of God . . . The human family is, in a certain sense, the icon of the Trinity because of the love between its members and the fruitfulness of that love”.
The relationship of mother, father, and child continues, just as it did with the Holy Family in a more perfect way, to be the very image or reflection of the Holy Trinity. Jesus lived in a loving communion of Persons in the Holy Trinity, and He lived in a loving communion of persons in the Holy Family. And this is something we are a part of in our own families; this is one of the profound ways that God continually uses His human creatures to participate in His plan of redemption. To quote the Holy Father again, “God, by having come into the world in the bosom of a family, shows that this institution is a sure way to meet and know Him, and a permanent call to work for the loving unity of all people. Thus, one of the greatest services which we as Christians can offer our fellow men and women is to show them the serene and solid witness of a family founded upon marriage between a man and a woman, defending it and protecting it, because it is of supreme importance for the present and future of humankind.”
So, on this feast day of the Holy Family, it is good to reflect on how your family can more perfectly image this bond of self-giving love found in the Holy Trinity. One way to do this is to have a special devotion to the Holy Family through which you will be encouraged to accept this invitation to more perfectly reflect the Divine. You can find icons, art, medals, and prayer cards of the Holy Family here.