Tag Archives: Virtue

The Feast of the Holy Family

December 30, 2017

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The Holy Family

The Holy Family
Holy Family
Belle Prairie, MN

Obedience – a virtue of paramount importance

Each year the Sunday between Christmas and New Year’s is the Feast of the Holy Family. The timing makes perfect sense. Before Christmas Mary and Joseph were married, a twosome, the Holy Couple, but with the birth of Jesus and the presence of their child, on the first Sunday after Christmas, they have become a threesome, the Holy Family.

But what made Jesus, Mary, and Joseph so holy? How might our own families follow their example in reaching greater holiness? To practice the virtue of obedience is to grow in holiness.

Joseph was obedient. When the angel told him to take Mary as his wife (Mt 1:20,24); to name the child Jesus (Mt 1:21,25); to take the family and flee to Egypt (Mt 2:13-13); and to return to Israel (Mt 2:19-22), he obeyed in every instance, and he did so immediately without complaint. Virtuous husbands and fathers obey God.

Mary was obedient. When the angel Gabriel appeared and announced, “You shall bear a son,” she obediently replied, “May it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). Virtuous wives and mothers obey God.

Not only were they obedient individually, they were obedient together: “They fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord” (Lk 2:39). Virtuous married couples obey God.

Jesus also was obedient. In fact, obedience is the only trait used to describe Jesus when he was twelve years old: He “was obedient to them” (Lk 2:51). Virtuous children obey their parents.

Obedience is an extremely difficult challenge for everyone at every age. We want things our own way, and we can be quite stubborn. It is already evident in toddlers who have minds of their own. It is no wonder that the Fourth Commandment is “Honor [i.e., obey] your father and your mother” (Ex 20:12; Dt 5:16). Obedience is the foremost challenge of childhood and adolescence, and as Jesus demonstrated, it is the path to holiness for a young person.

Parents have an obligation to insist on what is good for their children and the family, and children have a spiritual duty to obey. It starts with little things like cleaning your plate, brushing your teeth, and doing some household tasks; and it progresses to bigger things like going to church, doing your homework, dressing modestly, using the computer and cell phone appropriately, and coming home on time. Parents lay down rules, not to be controlling or mean, but to obey God (Dt 6:7), and when young people are obedient, not only do they honor their parents, they also honor almighty God.

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