THE HOLY FAMILY
(A biblical reflection on THE FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY – Sunday, 29 December 2013)
Gospel Reading: Matthew 2:13-15,19-23
First Reading: Sirach 3:2-6,12-14; Psalms: Psalm 128:1-5; Second Reading: Colossians 3:12-21
The Scripture Text
Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the Child and His mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the Child, to destroy Him.” And he rose and took the Child and His mother by night, and departed to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt have I called My son.”
But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Rise, take the child and His mother, and to to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” And he rose and took the child and His mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus reigned over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. And he went and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled. “He shall be called a Nazarene.” (Matthew 2:13-15,19-23 RSV)
The feast of the Holy Family invites us to look at our own families – not in a way that leaves us feeling judged or blamed, but as a help for stronger family life. The Holy Family is a unique model of love, prayer and mutual care, and it is also a practical model for Christian families.
“Oh right!” we might object. “Jesus was God’s Son, and Mary and Joseph were so holy. They never had problems.” But every family has its struggles. And every family survives only if God is at its head. In this story from Matthew, we see that Joseph knew he could not lead his family alone. He heard and obeyed a word spoken to him by the Lord and thus saved his family from destruction. Obeying another command, he led his family to safety in Nazareth. God reigned in Joseph’s house and gave it His protection and love.
God wants to pour out divine grace on every family that looks to Him. He wants to be with us so that our families can be strong in themselves and united with others. Each marriage is like a knot in a fisherman’s net: Joined with others, it can support a great weight. Similarly, families can receive support from one another’s abundance of grace.
The Holy Family itself can be such a channel of grace. When we’re wondering how to approach work with our children, we can ask Mary and Joseph, “How did you raise Jesus?” They probably had times of indecisiveness. We can ask for ways to show our spouses we love them. Maybe Mary liked to fix Joseph a special dinner after a particularly hard day at work! Maybe Joseph made sure Mary always had flowers in her home!
The devil tried to destroy the Holy Family, and today he tries to destroy families all over the world. Whether we’re single or married, his attacks concern us all. We all belong to families and to a God who cares deeply about family life. Together, then, let’s ask Him to reign as King and Protector of the family.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, please hold each family in Your heart. Where there has been hurt, bring Your healing touch. Where there is struggle, send Your Holy Spirit. Empower us all to withstand the evil one’s attempts to rob us of our hope. Amen.
Jakarta, 27 December 2013 [Feast of Saint John, Apostle & Evangelist]
A Christian Pilgrim