Homily (Reflection) for the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph (B) (31st December, 2017) on the Gospel and the Feast
Sir 3:2-6.12-14 or Gen 15:1-6.21:1-3;Ps 127: 1-5. (R. cf. v. 1) or Ps 104:1-6.8-9. (R.vv. 7.8);
Col 3:12-21 or Heb 11:8.11-12.17-19;
Lk 2:22-40 or Lk 2:22.39-40.
Holy Family consists of Jesus, Blessed Virgin Mary, and Saint Joseph. Veneration of the Holy Family formally began in the 17th century by Saint François de Laval, the first bishop of New France, who founded a Confraternity. And the Feast of the Holy Family is a liturgical celebration in the Catholic Church in honour of the trio. Since the 1969 revision of the General Roman Calendar, the feast is celebrated on the Sunday between Christmas and New Year's Day (both exclusive), or on December 30 when both Christmas Day and New Year's Day (the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God) are Sundays.
Topic: Model Christian family.
The feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph was developed in the 17th century and established for the universal church in 1921 to promote family life and devotion to the Holy Family. There is an Igbo adage: “ụzụ na-amaghị akpụ ogene, ya lee egbe anya n’ọdụdụ” literally meaning that a blacksmith who does not know how to make a metal gong should look at the tail of a kite. The book of Deuteronomy reads: “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deut 10:12). And today, we celebrate that Holy Family of Nazareth which stands as a model for all families especially with regard to fearing the Lord and walking in his ways.
As we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family, the gospel reading recounts how Jesus Christ was presented in the temple. It was in accordance with the law of the Lord (cf. Lk 2:22-24) as it is written in the book of Numbers: “... all the first-born are mine; on the day that I slew all the first-born in the land of Egypt, I consecrated for my own all the first-born in Israel, both of man and of beast; they shall be mine: I am the LORD” (Num 3:13).
The holy family offered Jesus all he needed as a man to grow properly – love, mutual understanding, care, respect, fidelity to God and to each other, among others. It is important to consider how many families today still provide enabling environment for their children’s growth. Sometimes, children see themselves in families where hatred, gross misunderstanding, callousness, disrespect, infidelity both to God, to themselves, and to their fellow human beings, among other vices are the order of the day.
By accepting to take flesh and become man, God sanctified and blessed family life. He also changed the human view of family. It was hitherto looked at as something mundane, earthly, even for some something sinful. However, both lay men and women can serve God even to the heroic degrees. The gospel reads further: “When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and become strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was upon him” (Lk 2:39-40). Mary and Joseph returned with Jesus to their home where Jesus grew up. Do parents still take their children home or is it ‘to your tent o Israel’ – both the man and the woman going their separate ways in pursuit of one thing or the other leaving their children at the mercy of the maids?
About all Israelites we read, “You shall be holy to me; for I the LORD am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine” (Lev 20:26). Every Christian is dedicated to God. Hence, the first letter of Saint Peter reads: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1Pt 2:9). Saint Paul in his letter to the Ephesians also wrote: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph 2:10).
As we celebrate the feast of the holy family therefore, it calls for sober reflection on our families. The family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph is holy because each and every one of them lived according to the will of God. Any Christian family that is not holy is a contradiction.
Bible Readings: Deut 10:12-22; Eph 2:1-10; 6:1-9; 1Pt 2:1-17.
Thought for today: How well do you live as one dedicated to God?
Let us pray: Lord, you established the holy family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph as a model for every Christian family, help us to do our own parts in making our families holy – Amen.
May the peace and the love of the newborn King be with you now and forever + Amen.
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