Illustration by Phil Younk
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Based on the Gospel of Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23
Another dream and more instructions! In last Sunday’s Gospel, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream telling him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife into his home, and that Mary, through the Holy Spirit, would have a child – a son – who will be the Son of God. Joseph was told to name the baby Jesus and raise him as his own.

On Christmas, we heard the Roman emperor wanted a census taken. Mary and Joseph had to register for this count and travel to Bethlehem because Joseph was of the house and family of David. The trip was long and hard because Mary was soon to have her baby.

Arriving in Bethlehem, there was no room for them in the inn. No room meant no rest from the long, hard trip, no warm food, no help to care for the animal and belongings, no baby clothing woven by Mary and no cradle made by Joseph. Mary and Joseph stayed in a cave-like stable where Jesus was born in a manger used for feeding animals. Cold, very little light, and only slight protection from the nightly weather changes were part of their stay in this rough, crude animal shelter. It was here the shepherds came in adoration of the Christ Child.

In today’s Gospel, an angel, again, appears to Joseph in a dream and says, “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”

Obeying promptly, Joseph gets everything ready and they begin the long, 200-mile trip to Egypt for Jesus’ safety. After King Herod’s death, the angel tells Joseph they can return home to the village of Nazareth.

As we celebrate the Christmas season and look at the Holy Family in our Nativity cribs, Jesus is surely the center of the whole Christmas story, followed by Mary and then Joseph (rather in the background). However, Joseph’s part in all of this is crucial and important. In a series of dreams, via an angel, God gives instructions to Joseph and makes him responsible for the safety and protection of Mary and Jesus.

What makes the Holy Family holy? Despite the frightening and challenging circumstances, and the hardship and sacrifice, they were people of faith who trusted God and were obedient to his directions.

By our baptism, we become children in the family of God. The Holy Family is a model of faith for all families and a reminder that every family is called to be holy – loving and serving God and one another.