Holy Family Sunday: God’s Plan for Marriage and Family Life

User’s Guide to Sunday, Dec. 26

‘The Holy Family,’ c.1660-70
‘The Holy Family,’ c.1660-70 (photo: Bartolome Esteban Murillo / Public domain)

Sunday, Dec. 26, is the feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. 

Mass Readings: Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14; Psalm 128:1-2, 3, 4-5; Colossians 3:12-21 or 3:12-17; Luke 2:41-52.

Let us consider the family and marriage along three lines:

Structure: All through the readings for today’s Mass, we are instructed on the basic form, the basic structure of the family.

— “God sets a father in honor over his children; a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons” (Sirach 3:2).

— “May your wife be like a fruitful vine, in the recesses of your home; your children like olive plants, around your table” (Psalm 128:3).

— “Wives, be subordinate to your husbands, as is proper in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and avoid any bitterness toward them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, so that they may not become discouraged” (Colossians 3:20-21).

— “Each year, Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover. … Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety …” (Luke 2:45, 51).

— “And he was obedient to them. … And Jesus advanced in age and wisdom and favor before God and man” (Luke 2:51-52).

Here, then, is God’s basic teaching on family and marriage and its structure: a father in honor over his children in a fruitful, stable and lasting relationship with his wife, who is supportive of her husband and his authority. He supports, loves and encourages his wife and confirms her authority over the children. The children honor and obey their parents, who instruct and admonish their children, encouraging them to advance in wisdom and grace. In short, a father, a mother and children should all be reverential and supportive of one another. 

Struggles: Yet what should be obvious seems to be strangely absent from the minds of many. Marriage and family are in crisis in our culture due to the willfully sinful habits of many adults in the areas of sexuality, marriage and family life. 

Strategy: What are we to do? Preach the word! 

We must be prepared to unambiguously repropose the wisdom of God’s word to our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 

Children deserve and have the right to expect two parents, a father and mother, committed to each other until death do they part.