The Gift of the Holy Family is an example of how the Holy Spirit can bring unity to one another when the object of one’s love is Jesus. Chosen by God to reflect and initiate the unity of the Triune God who is Love, the Holy Family entrusted their lives to the will of the Father and the movement of the Holy Spirit:
· And Mary said, “Let it be done unto me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)
· When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had directed him. (Matthew 1:24)
· And he (Jesus) went down with them (Mary and Joseph) and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. (Luke 2:51)
· And Jesus said, “…Not my will but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)
Meditation on their earthly life is only part of our spirituality. The reality of the mission of the Holy Family can be active in everyday life, especially in the priest, who carries the presence of Christ in a unique way, in his very person. Each person of the Holy Family can be reflected in the life and ministry of the priest:
Jesus – As the One chosen to be High Priest, the life, death and resurrection of Jesus is the acceptable sacrifice that is offered to bring to fruition the unity of all humanity. The ministry of Jesus is unity:
Father, may they all be one, even as you are in me and I in you, that they also may be one in us, so that the world may believe that you sent me. (John 17:21)
The ministry of unity is given to the Church to be Christ’s instrument of unity. This is manifested most perfectly in the Eucharistic Liturgy.
This offering is made present through the gift of priesthood given in holy orders, but the Catholic priest also carries this presence in his very person, in persona Christi. Thus, through an increased awareness of the presence of Christ, a clearer vision of unity can be lived out in the priestly life. The priest has a special calling to not only reflect Jesus but also is called to be Jesus for and to others. This can be seen in the relationship that Jesus had with Mary and Joseph. Jesus’ vulnerability and his reliance on his mother and foster-father (who are valuable instruments in the mission of Christ) provides an example of unity in priestly ministry through humility and trust. The humanity of Jesus that is offered as the perfect sacrifice flows from the Holy Family. This presence of Jesus, human and divine, in the priest transforms him into an instrument of unity for the people of God.
Mary – As the one chosen to carry the Son of God in her person, Mary becomes the perfect created instrument of unity in Jesus. The ministry of Mary, as God-bearer, is reflected in the vocation of the priest as the one who brings Jesus to others and brings others to her Divine Son. The active role of the Virgin Mary in the life of the priest teaches him to love Jesus personally, nurtures him in the spiritual life, stands with him in times of trial, and is mystically present with the priest in the sacramental ministry, especially in the Eucharist.
Joseph – As the one chosen to be the spouse and father of the Holy Family, Joseph becomes the model of unity in Jesus. The ministry of Joseph, as Patron and Guardian of Christ, is reflected in the ministry of the priest as one who, through his fatherly privilege, receives and presents Jesus to all. The presence of St. Joseph in the life of the priest teaches him to honor and revere the body of Christ, in the Church and especially in the Eucharist, and provides a profound meditation on the presence of Jesus in everyday life, brings confidence and assurance in difficult times, and establishes a true sense of fatherhood in ministry.
The Holy Family is unified in the Heart of Jesus. Inspired by the divine love of the Father, the center of love flows to and from the presence of God in the Christ and unites Jesus, Mary and Joseph to each other as one. The sacredness of this divinely inspired human love is recognized in the unity of hearts in the Holy Family. The priest can tap into this source of love by uniting himself to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Mary and Joseph and become a more profound instrument of the unity that is present in the Trinity.
All priests, religious or diocesan, are welcome to join us at our monthly gathering every first Wednesday for the celebration of the Eucharist and a day of communal prayer and reflection. Priests outside the diocese who are interested in the confraternity are invited to contact us.
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