THEME: JESUS, MARY AND JOSEPH – THE MODEL FAMILY
READINGS: Sirach 3:3-6,12-14/ Colossians 3:12-21/ Matthew 2:13-15,19-23
Feast of Holy Family
Today is the feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. The wisdom of the church fittingly places the feast of the Holy Family within the week of the celebration of the birth of our Saviour. By so doing we are reminded of the importance of the birth and growth of children in the context of marriage and family. We are also reminded of the need for each member of the family to fully embrace his/her responsibilities for the mutual benefits of all. In these and other areas of family life, Jesus, Mother Mary and St. Joseph are presented to us the ultimate model. I will just highlight a few points in this homily.
In the first place, though we do not have detailed records of how Jesus, Mother Mary and St. Joseph lived together, there is no doubt that despite the challenges they faced, they experienced the joy and peace which come with living together in selfless love and care for one another. Beloved, could you make it a New Year resolution to show more selfless love and care towards your family members so God may bless your family with joy and peace throughout the year?
Secondly, the Holy Family teaches us that in each family every member should be supported through thick and thin. Consider how St. Joseph protected Mother Mary and the child Jesus by taking them to Egypt in order to escape the wrath of King Herod (cf. today’s gospel reading). Like, St. Joseph, let us do our best to protect the life and image of every member of our family; for, as we know, it is very comforting and reassuring when one knows that his/her family would support him/her through thick and thin.
Thirdly, the Holy Family teaches us that even when we do not understand or agree with a member of our family, we should let him/her feel at home. For instance, when St. Joseph and Mother Mary found the boy Jesus in the temple, they warmly welcomed him though they did not understand his action nor his reply to question of his anxious Mother Mary. This is a lesson for us: to make a child, parent or spouse accepted and cherished even when we do not understand his/her actions nor agree with him/her; for it is heart-warming for one to be thus accepted by his/her family.
Fourthly, the child Jesus, though he is the Son of God, obeyed his earthly mother, St. Mary, and his foster-father, St. Joseph. For instance, according to the Gospel of St. Luke, after Mary and Joseph have found the child Jesus in the temple, he went with them home in ‘Nazareth and lived under their authority’ (Luke 2:51). If he who is divine lived under the authority of mere human parents, then whatever higher status [as doctors, CEOs, professors, presidents] we achieve in life, obedience to our parents should not disappear from our hearts. Here I would like each of us to soberly reflect on today’s first reading taken from the Book of Sirach:
The Lord honoured the father above the children, and he confirmed the right of the mother over her sons. Whoever honours his father atones for sins, and whoever glorifies his mother is like one who lays up treasure. Whoever honours his father will be gladdened by his own children, and when he prays he will be heard. … O son [daughter], help your father in his old age, and do not grieve him as long as he lives; even if he is lacking in understanding, show forbearance, in all your strength do not despise him. For kindness to a father will not be forgotten, and against your sins it will be credited to you (Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14).
Fifthly, parents should learn from St. Joseph and Mother Mary who gave the boy Jesus a spiritual upbringing not only by words but also by deeds: ‘every year his parents used to go to [the temple in] Jerusalem for the feast’ (Luke 2:41). Today, parents invest a lot towards the future socio-economic standings of their children. While parents should be commended for such investments, they should learn from Mother Mary and St. Joseph that the spiritual-moral upbringing of their children is of supreme importance. For what use is it for one’s child to achieve so much in this life and lose his/her soul?
Finally, the child Jesus ‘increased in wisdom, in stature, and in favour with God and with people’ (Luke 2:52). And this certainly delighted his parents. What is more, years later as an adult, Jesus’ mother, Mary, who witnessed his inspiring preaching, his healing of countless number of the sick, his feeding of thousands of people and his other awesome miracles was more than overjoyed! Similarly, there is joy in the whole family when children make good progress in life: be it a spiritual, academic or career progress. Therefore, assisted by divine grace, let us all make good efforts to progress spiritually, socially, academically/professionally to the glory of God and to the joy of our families!
I wish you all a Happy New Year with God’s blessings on your families, yourselves and your endeavours. Amen!
By Very Rev. Fr. John K. Louis