In these days of the Octave of Epiphany, the Church continues to contemplate the mystery of the Infant Savior. She kneels in adoration today with the Magi before the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Here she contemplates the marvelous reality that God, Who could have saved us in any way at all, has willed to save us by being born into a human family. God the Son, Who had only a Father from all eternity, has willed to have now a true Mother!
On this feast of the Holy Family, we marvel at the now-divine beauty of human family life. We are students today at this feast, allowing ourselves to learn the meaning of familial love. In a culture in which the family is constantly under attack, we learn today that there is a Perfect Family. We acknowledge the perfection of the Holy Family. We acknowledge that St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin Mary had a perfect marriage, that there has never been in the history of the world a marriage bond as united as their virginal love. We joyfully proclaim that the Son of God is the obedient Son of Mary, subject also to his foster-father. We rejoice that we too are members of the Perfect Family, that we too are invited into the house at Bethlehem today to adore with the Magi: to help St. Joseph, to honor our holy Mother, to worship God-become-a-baby. How joyful are the mysteries we celebrate on this Epiphany day!
On Tuesday, the Church will celebrate the Baptism of the Lord, which is the Octave of Epiphany. The Baptism is the second of the Epiphany mysteries (followed by the Wedding Feast at Cana). In the Baptism, Our Lord’s Divinity is manifest by the voice of the Father: “This is my Beloved Son…”
The feast of the Lord’s Baptism is the feast also of our own Baptism into Him. He was baptized not to be made holy (He was already all-holy), but rather to make the waters of Baptism holy with His holiness. To the waters of Baptism, He communicated the gifts of salvation (the Heavens opened), sanctifying grace (the descent of the Holy Spirit), and adoptive sonship (the voice of the Father). In our own Baptism, we died and rose with Christ so that we could live in Him as members of His Body. Thanks to Baptism, we now have His gift of salvation, His anointing with the Holy Spirit, His treasures of grace, His relationship with God the Father. Thanks to Baptism, we have become by grace what Christ is by nature. He has communicated to us His very identity!
Right now, we renew the promises of our own Baptism: to live by faith, to desire Heaven, to order our lives entirely to the Supreme Good, Who is God. We beg for the graces we need to live this life we have received, being born by baptism into the Holy Family. We ask our foster-father, St. Joseph, to pray for us to our true Father, that we may live in obedience to His commands. We ask our Mother to pray for us that we may persevere always in grace. We ask our Infant Savior to pour forth into our hearts the unceasing Stream of Salvation flowing from His Heart. We beg Him to cover us with His Blood, to protect us and guide us all the days of our life, until we may rejoice in Heaven with our Holy Family forever.
Fr. Joseph Previtali