We can be critical of the old family structure reflected in the command for wives to be submissive to their husbands, but we must admit that the old structure worked in many ways. Families were stable social units, contributing much to the right ordering of society.
We no longer feel comfortable with wives being submissive to husbands, and just the reading of this passage in today’s liturgy offends some people. Perhaps we ought to accept this reading as a challenge to find a new family structure that works.
The alternative to the old family structure should not be an absence of structure resulting in the breakdown of the family; rather, it should be a new family structure built around mutual love and equal partnership.
The celebration of the Holy Family should serve as a reminder to us that the family is holy; that there is a reflection of our Trinitarian God in the father, mother and child of the family; and that there will be no order in society if there is not stability in family life.
As a nation, we need to make children and families our first priority, to invest in their future; to combat the forces—cultural, economic and moral—which hurt children and destroy families; to manage our economy, shape our government, and direct our institutions to support and not undermine our families.
U.S. Bishops, Putting Children and Families First:
A Challenge for Our Church, Nation and World (1991) IV