Homily for the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (A) (29th December, 2019) on the Gospel and the FeastSir 3:2-6.12-14;
Ps 128:1-5 (R. v. 1);
Holy Family consists of Jesus, Blessed Virgin Mary, and Saint Joseph. Veneration of the Holy Family was formally begun 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 30 December when both Christmas Day and New Year's Day (the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God) are Sundays.
Topic: We are all called.
Sometimes some look at other’s states in life as better than theirs. This could be as a result of difficulties experienced or lack of knowledge. I remember when the reality of the sacrifice I was about to make was dawning on me, a woman told me that the best vocation in life is the call to be either a priest or religious man or woman. She listed few things in her mind as the base for her assertion. I looked at her pitifully and was still introducing what it takes to be a celibate when she changed her stand. I will save the details for some other time.
As we celebrate the Holy Family, our focus will be on married life. Marriage is a serious business through which humans cooperate with God in the work of creation, cf. Gen 1:28, Deut 7:14. It took Adam time to see among all creatures one helpmate, cf. Gen 2:18-24. Marriage is of divine origin and the importance of God in the family life cannot be overemphasized. In the beginning, God considered it necessary to find a helpmate for Adam, cf. Gen 2:18. God is the key to a successful marriage, cf. Tob 8:4-15. We have some areas to reconsider today. They include, whether we involve God in marriages today, the choice of partners, and the value of marriage today.
The Bible has a lot to teach us about marriage. Some of them make marriage to be attractive whereas others might make one to be at least more careful. The Psalmist tells us: “Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table” (Ps 128:3). But one can inherit house and wealth from parents but a good wife and good husband are gifts from God, cf. Prov 18:22; Prov 19:14. The Book of Proverbs goes further: “A good wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones” (Prov 12:4). “A foolish son is ruin to his father, and a wife's quarrelling is a continual dripping of rain” (Prov 19:13). These also apply to husbands.
For there to be marriage, a man and a woman must leave their parents and cling to each other to become one body, cf. Gen 2:24 because it is between a man and a woman. In marriage, both gains and losses are mutually shared, cf. Gen 7:7. Saint Paul also writes: “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together” (1Cor 12:26). For any family to worth the name, each and every member must be faithful to his or her call. Although the man is the head of the family but the woman is not of less importance, cf. Eph 5:23; Prov 31:10. Today’s gospel tells us how Joseph in obedience to God protected the lives of both Jesus and his mother by taken them first to Egypt and later to Nazareth.
Marriage is the result of matrimonial consent through which a man and a woman irrevocably and mutually give and accept each other, cf. can 1057§2. This involves in the words of Saint Paul: “The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not rule over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not rule over his own body, but the wife does. (1Cor 7:3-4). But today some deny their partners conjugal rights thereby opening the door for the devil. Even before the coming of Christ, it is a terrible sin for a man to leave his wife or a woman her husband for someone else, cf. Gen 12:18; Gen 39:8; Lev 20:10; Deut 22:22; Deut 27:20. God warned Abimelech in these words: "Behold, you are a dead man, because of the woman whom you have taken; for she is a man's wife" (Gen 20:3). The essential properties of marriage are unity and indissolubility (can 1056). Divorce is human terminology, cf. Lk 16:18, Mk 10:11.
Again, in as much as I am not against marrying a man or a woman from another community, I think it is good to know who one is getting married to. Our people used to find out about the fiancé and fiancée before entering into marriage until recently. This helps to avoid avoidable mistakes that we are paying dearly for today. Dear ones in the Lord, it is a wonderful thing to marry but we should marry in holiness and honour, cf. 1Thess 4:4. When the disciples heard that marriage is a land of no return they said: “it is better not to marry” (Matt 19:10).
Bible Readings: Gen 2:18-24; Lev 18; Tob 8:1-18; Eph 5:21-33; 1Cor 12:12-26; Matt 19:1-12.
Thought for today: Do you know that you are called to be holy in your state of life?
Let us pray: God Almighty, as we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, give us wisdom to understand our call and power to live it out – Amen.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph – I give you my heart and soul.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph – assist me in my last agony,
Jesus, Mary and Joseph – may I breath forth my soul in peace with you–Amen.
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