The feast day of the Holy Family appropriately falls within the 8 days of Christmas, the celebration of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.
Part of the mystery of the Incarnation is the fact that God not only became man, but that He joined Himself to a human family. This reveals that God desires His human creatures—His image-bearers—to play essential roles in redemptive history. We rarely ponder how incredible this is!
Think about it for a moment: the Holy Trinity entrusted two humans with the tremendous role of raising one of its "members" (astonishing!). The whole world could not contain God, yet He placed Himself inside the womb of a human mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. God created angelic beings with the power to collapse the universe, yet He gave Himself a lowly human father as a guardian and protector, St. Joseph.
The fact that throughout the ages God has invited humans into His grand redemptive story is simply profound. Surely we can marvel with Mary in her Magnificat, "The Almighty has done great things for me" (Luke 1:46-55).
THE HUMAN FAMILY IS AN ICON OF THE TRINITY
When we reflect on the nature of the Holy Trinity, we see that the human family itself teaches us about God. The Trinity is a loving, self-giving unity of three Divine Persons—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit—in One Divine Being. Their loving union is procreative, in that the Holy Trinity brought creatures into existence to share in their divine love for all eternity.
Likewise, a husband and wife join in a loving, self-giving, procreative union. Therefore it is not merely individual man and woman that bear the image of God, but also the human family itself, because together they form a union of love from which proceeds the fruitfulness of children. For this reason Pope Benedict XVI called the human family an icon of the Holy Trinity:
"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."
When a man and wife desire to create children to share in their love, it is something like the desire of the Holy Trinity to create you and me.
THE GOOD EXAMPLE OF THE HOLY FAMILY
Jesus lived in a loving communion of Persons in the Holy Trinity, and, when He was born into the world, He lived in a loving communion in the Holy Family with the perfect Mary and the righteous Joseph. This teaches us about God's purpose for marriage and the human family, as explained by Pope Benedict XVI,
"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 be an icon of the 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 to show you the way! You can find icons, art, medals, and prayer cards of the Holy Family here.
This article has been updated and was originally published in December 2012. © The Catholic Company. All rights reserved.