Today is the Solemnity of the Annunciation. This feast is celebrated 9 months before Christmas, and for good reason. It was the moment when the Angel Gabriel appeared to the Blessed Virgin Mary and invited her to become the Mother of God. Mary said, "I am the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to your word." At that moment the Word became flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary and humanity was joined to Divinity.

If we were to imagine God entering His world in the flesh, we would probably picture a very different scene: perhaps the heavens torn open and an army of angels descending with God riding in a golden chariot, or the God striding forth from a lighting-ringed Temple, or a mystic portal, a primordial Stargate opening to connect Heaven and Earth. But God chose to enter the world through a woman's womb, and to be caught by her husband Joseph. It was through female fertility and simple family that God entered the world. This gives us a tiny glimpse of how much God values the family. The family was made in the image of the Trinity -- three in one. And it was through the family that God would enter human history.

Our modern world does not value the family. We have been busy promoting just about every alternative lifestyle but the family. And meanwhile, families are struggling. Children are born out of wedlock and raised without fathers. Divorce divides families and children bounce back between one broken home and another. Even intact families have almost no family life. Family meals are no longer a daily, or even weekly, feature of childhood. Family time is stolen by sports and screens. Kids grow up as individuals who happen to share a common roof. I see this moment of safer-at-home as a golden opportunity to value the family again. Suddenly, families are shocked by an abundance of family time. Treasure this time. Have meals together each day. Teach the kids to cook (and make them help clean up). Invest in each other. Make fun memories together. Fathers, lead your families in bedtime prayers each night. Learn to love the family as God loves your family. Pray for families today.

Prayer to St. Joseph

Good St. Joseph,
as you led the Holy Family, watch over our families.
Help our family and all families to know and share God’s love.
In our family relationships, may we find healing and seek to be holy.

May our fathers help us to become faithful disciples of Jesus
who share our love for Him.
As a foster father of Jesus,
watch over all who serve as spiritual fathers.
In a special way, bless our Holy Father, our Bishop, and our priests.
May they follow your humble example in their fatherly care
for the people of God, the Church.

With Mary, you raised Jesus the High Priest.
You know our need for priests.
Please raise up good and holy priests from our families
to serve the people of our diocese.
May our children and grandchildren hear and say “yes” to the call of Jesus, just as you and Mary did.

Good St. Joseph, pray for us.