The Seedbed of Salvation
As such, Von Balthasar ponders:
"A strange family: none of them is actually what he or she outwardly seems. The family is like a united outer skin covering an inner secret so that it can come to fruition undisturbed... A strange family indeed, not fashioned and held together by bonds of human sexuality but by the bonds of a divine mission and plan of salvation. But perhaps these are the stronger bonds, able to weld the most disparate individuals into a unity of a higher order and of greater promise.
At this point, in spite of and because of its uniqueness, the Holy Family constitutes an urgent challenge to all Christian communities and all human communities whatsoever... [the Holy Family] shows people as profoundly diverse as Jesus, his Mother and his adoptive father united in a community of life under God's loving will. Only if men learn to look beyond their narrow interests (often legitimate at a natural level but distorted by egoism) and embrace the good of the whole does mankind have a chance of survival.
As we look back at the year that has gone, we can and ought to wonder how far we ourselves have progressed along this ascending path that brings salvation. We should ask ourselves to what extent we have seriously subordinated our own interests to those we share with others, to interests that are universal and seek the good of all. Only when all men succeed in subordinating the all-pervasive egoism can that peace the angels sang of at Christmas come upon the earth. It is the highest gift heaven has in store for earth, and in principle it has actually been given in Jesus Christ."
- from 'You Crown the Year with Your Goodness', p295ff.
And highest hope that mortals hold,
With love, God's household greets your birth
And smiles on you, now come on earth!
O Mary, ever full of grace,
None else there is can take your place
And cherish Jesus on chaste breast,
With milk, bestowing kisses blest.
O Virgin's loved defender true,
Of patriarchal line are you;
The Child divine, now born in time,
You "Father" calls, a name sublime.
From Jesse's noble stock, your birth
To save all nations, come on earth!
We beg you, hear us all today,
Who at your altars come to pray.
That grace which in your home took root,
In every virtue bore great fruit;
May that same grace in all abound
And in each family be found.
O Jesus, who, to parents mild,
Were ever true, obedient child;
With Father high and Spirit be,
All glory yours eternally. Amen."
-The Office hymn, O lux beata caelitum.
Above, the 'Holy Family' by Michelangelo