St. Joseph leads the Holy Family from Egypt to Nazareth. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by growing in the Virtue of Obedience so he can be obedient to God’s call to be the leader of his family and by building the Virtue of Duty so he can better imitate the sacrificial headship of St. Joseph.  

Liturgy

Christmastime – Feast of the Holy Family – 1st Sunday after the Nativity – Cycle A (or December 30) – Mt 2:13-15, 19-23

Commentary

Following Jesus’ humble birth in Bethlehem, Wise Men (the Magi) travel from the East (likely Persia), compelled by the supernatural sign of a star in the sky; this fulfills a 1200-year-old prophecy of the birth of the Messiah (Num 24:17). The Wise Men mistakenly disclose their mission to the evil King Herod. Warned in a dream of Herod’s evil intentions, after the Wise Men pay homage to Jesus, they avoid Herod and return to their homeland. 

Herod’s grave evil threat to Jesus is also revealed by an angel to St. Joseph, the great and holy man God the Father chose to be the Guardian of the Redeemer. St. Joseph vigorously acts to protect the young Virgin Mother and the newborn babe Jesus by immediately departing during the night and leading the Blessed Virgin Mary and Jesus to Egypt, an arduous and dangerous journey of several hundred miles. 

After remaining in Egypt for a number of years, St. Joseph is again instructed by an angel to return to Israel after Herod the Great’s death. St. Joseph immediately leads the Holy Family out of Egypt, fulfilling Hosea’s ancient prophecy of the Messiah’s return from Egypt (Hos 11:1) and which echoes Israel’s deliverance during the Exodus. Realizing that Herod’s evil son Archeleus now rules in Judea, St. Joseph avoids returning to Bethlehem, and leads the Holy Family to Nazareth in Galilee. By settling in Nazareth, Jesus also fulfills prophecy which foresees the Messiah rising as a branch out of the stump of Jesse (Is 11:1); the name “Nazareth” comes from the Hebrew word for “branch” (netser); Jesus is a descendant of King David, whose father was Jesse. 

Be awed by Jesus Christ

Marvel at how God the Father and St. Joseph prepared Jesus for His mission by helping Him build extraordinary human Strength and Stamina: Jesus endures tough conditions from an early age including the arduous travel to Egypt; He grows up in austerity and challenge in Egypt; He returns to Nazareth to be raised in the arduous and grueling profession of a 1st Century carpenter.

Be obedient to God’s call to headship

Realize: Despite the recent efforts to undermine the importance of men, God the Father’s plan for humanity has always been built on the leadership of men (patriarchy): God calls Joseph to be the earthly father of Jesus; Jesus chooses and forms 12 men to be His Apostles; Jesus appoints Peter and successive popes to lead His Kingdom on Earth; Jesus establishes the male priesthood. 

 Believe: Reflect upon God’s deliberate Plan of Patriarchy (CCC 261-267, 1297, 1312, 1577, 2214, 2571).

Pray: Almighty and Most Gracious Father, help me build the Virtue of Obedience (a part of Justice) so I willingly submit to, and actively support, Your deliberate plan for men to be sacrificial leaders in the Church, in families, and in society.

Imitate the sacrificial headship of St. Joseph

Realize: God’s plan for men to be the leaders of their families is confirmed by God’s choosing of St. Joseph to be the head of the Holy Family, the first Domestic Church, the smallest part of the Church Militant, one of the three parts of the Church (Church Militant – the Church on earth; Church Penitent – Purgatory; Church Triumphant – Heaven). 

Believe: Reflect upon the Domestic Church Militant (CCC 954, 962, 1655-1658, 1666, 2204, 2210, 2685).

Pray: St. Joseph, pray that I grow in the Virtue of Duty/Responsibility (a part of Justice) so I can lead, provide for, and protect my family, and I willingly sacrifice my selfish desires and myself for the good of my wife and children.