30 December: The Holy Family of Jesus Mary and Joseph
Readings: Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14; Colossians 3:12-21; Luke 2:22-40
The solemnity of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph is mainly a reminder that Christmas is a family feast, and that Jesus was born and raised in a family like us. In his letter to the Colossians, Paul reminds us that Christ is the profound link for every Christian family. For Paul, the solution to the many problems parents must face today cannot be purely human, but must be based on the message of Christ. Paul speaks of the peace that reigns in the family that lives in Christ. That peace is now threatened. The greatest threat facing families today is simply that we don’t spend enough time together. We are so busy working, or socializing, or watching TV or surfing the Internet that we have less and less time for each other. That style takes a big toll on the family. There is a story about a young lawyer who lived quite a distance from her elderly father. Months had passed since they had been together and when her father called to ask when she might visit, the daughter detailed a list of reasons that prevented her from taking the time to see him. She had court schedule, meetings, new clients, research, etc., etc. At the end of her recitation, the father asked, “When I die, do you intend to come to my funeral?” The daughter’s response was immediate, “Dad, I can’t believe you’d ask that! Of course, I’ll come!” To which the father replied, “Good. Forget the funeral and come; I need you more now than I will then.”
The Gospel invites us to focus our attention on how Mary and Joseph faithfully accept their vocation as parents, and on their total submission to God’s will. The spirit in which Mary and Joseph lived their parental vocation, is an example to be imitated by parents. The Holy Family is put before us as a model because Mary and Joseph went through many of the trials and obstacles that families today have to struggle with. The holy family had to flee to Egypt in order to escape from the threat over the life of Jesus by Herod. Mary and Joseph were troubled when that lost their 12 year old boy only to find him in the temple at his Father’s business. They had to struggle to survive without miracles. We can also imagine that Mary and Jesus suffered bereavement after Joseph’s death. Mary suffered the most agony watching her own son die on the Cross. How did the parents of Jesus cope with the difficulties they faced? One may say that Mary and Joseph lived a family spirituality centered on Jesus: they learnt to look at Jesus with eyes of faith; to listen to him with attention, and to meditate on the unfolding mystery of the Son of God in their midst. But above all, they loved each other. Just as the Holy Family survived its crises through love for each other and faith in God, let us pray that our families too may follow that example of love and faith in God. The message we take home is two fold: 1) The example of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph challenges us to find ways of coming together and centering our life on family spirituality. 2) We are invited to pray for our own families and those of our relatives and friends, so that, by God’s grace, they may overcome the trials and sufferings that face family life today, and experience the presence of Christ in their family life.
©2007 John Mbinda