Today’s liturgy speaks of two families. The first is the family that consists of parents and children: “The shepherds ... found Mary and Joseph, and, lying in a manger, the baby.” The first two readings are about the qualities of the people who make up such a family, and we pray that God may “unite our families in peace and love.”
We also pray that God may “help us to live as the holy family, united in respect and love.” Here the liturgy concerns the human family, of which the Holy Family is a model: “we want to live as Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, in peace with you and one another.”
Linking these two families, one’s immediate family and the human family, today’s liturgy prompts us to think of their common welfare. It raises the possibility that our two families rise and fall together.
Perhaps it is no accident that within this age of the universally recognized disintegration of the family, the world is also experiencing a breakup into rich and poor, developed and underdeveloped, the privileged and the marginal.
Perhaps now more than ever, we need to beg God to “show us the value of family life and help us to live in peace with all men.”
At a moment in which the family is the object of numerous forces that seek to destroy it or in some way to deform it, and aware that the well-being of society and her own good are intimately tied to the good of the family, the church perceives in a more urgent and compelling way her mission of proclaiming to all people the plan of God for marriage and family, ensuring their full vitality and human and Christian development, and thus contributing to the renewal of society and of the people of God.
Pope John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio, 1981:3.