Homily for the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph (C) (27th December, 2015) on the Gospel and the Feast

Sir 3:2-6.12-14 or 1Sam 1:20-22.24-28;
Ps 127:1-5. (R. v. 1) or Ps 83:2-3.5-6.9-10. (R. v 5);
Col 3:12-21 or 1Jn 3:1-2.21-24;
Lk 2:41-52.

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 Fran├žois 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[1].

Topic: Model Christian Family.
It is important to know that the primary purpose of this feast is to present the Holy Family as a model for Christian families. As a result, I consider it important to look at some aspects of family life through this model family.

In today’s gospel, we see one of the few pictures of the holy family as recorded in the bible. The gospel reads in part:

...every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it (Lk 2:41-43).

Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph were not only truly religious as manifested in their yearly observance of the Passover but they understood also the passage: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov 22:6). Hence they did not just observe the Passover but also took Jesus along with them. But many parents today have forgotten everything about God who builds and sustains the family, cf. Ps 127:1-2. Among those who still go to church and other religious activities many do not consider it important to take their children along.

And when they noticed that Jesus was not going back with them, both set out immediately in search of him which took them a whole three days. Yet the bible did not tell us that there was any rancour between them. I still remember one day a catechist taught the children preparing for the First Holy Communion the importance of peacefully coexisting with each other. He used the relationship between different political parties in Nigeria as an example. He then asked the children to give other examples of people who are not living peacefully. One little boy told the catechist that no other example will be better than his parents. The boy went on to tell the catechist that they live like cat and dog and hardly agree on anything. And no one supports the opinion of the other.

In Nigeria, there are so much noise caused by people apportioning blames to others and vice versa. Yet the positive change we look forward to is yet to come. In this same vein, many parents resort to apportioning blames to each other without achieving anything positive. Mary and Joseph on the other hand did neither apportion blames to each other nor grumble for the disappearance of the child Jesus. Yet they searched for him with great anxiety expressed thus through his mother: “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety” (Lk 2:48). Parents ought to look for their children and the solutions for the evils that bedevil our families today.

Children must remember always that obedience to parents is not a privilege but their right, cf. Matt 15:4; Ex 20:12; Col 3:20; Eph 6:1. In today’s gospel, Jesus obeyed his parents and went down with them to Nazareth and was obedient to them, (cf. 2:51a) where he grew in wisdom and in years.

May we all emulate the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

Bible Reading: Ps 127:1-5; Eph 6:1-4; Col 3:18-22; Jas 5:7-9.

Thought for today: Fulfilling your responsibility in the family.

Let us pray: May the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph help us transform our individual families into model Christian homes – 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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