December 28: The Holy Family of Jesus Mary and Joseph
Readings: Genesis 15:1-6; 21:1-3; Hebrews 11:8,11-12,17-19; 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 the First and Second Readings, the faithfulness of Abraham and Sarah is underlined as an example of great faith in God. Because of that faith God blesses them and fulfils his Covenant with them by giving them a son. One of the difficulties that many families face today is crisis of faith that tends to alienate young people from family life. But perhaps the greatest threat facing families today is the fact 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 just as Simeon in the Gospel of today had prophesied. 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 that they 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 Christ. 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.
©2008 John M. Mbinda