THE HOLY FAMILY AS THE MODEL OF OUR FAMILIES
(A biblical reflection on the Feast of THE HOLY FAMILY – Sunday, 27 December 2020)
Gospel Reading: Luke 2:22,39-40 (shorter version)
First Reading: Genesis 15:1-6; 21:1-3 Psalms: Psalm 103:1-6,8-9; Second Reading: Hebrews 11:8,11-12,17-19; Gospel Reading: Luke 2:22-40 (longer version)
The Scripture Text
And when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord.
And when they had performed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. And the Child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon Him.(Luke 2:22,39-40 RSV)
The Church makes this Sunday the Feast of the Holy Family, She wants all Christians families to look to that special family for inspiration, example and encouragement. We find all three in today’s Gospel. Their humble, unquestionable obedience to the Mosaic Law, a law to which they were not really bound, is an example and an encouragement for us to keep the laws of God which are binding on us. Mary, because of the virginal conception and birth of Jesus, did not need legal purification. Jesus, being the Son of God, did not have to be redeemed from the service of God. His whole life on earth was to be a complete and devoted service of God. Joseph, as father of that family, quietly and humbly accompanied Mary and her Child to Jerusalem.
They then returned to Nazareth to live a life of obscurity and poverty for the next thirty years. They were probably often short of the necessities of life – the earnings of a carpenter in the small village of Nazareth would be meager. Human nature being what it is, there probably were times when Joseph was not paid even what was due to him. Poverty, however, did not mean misery for them. They willingly accepted their lot and thanked God for the little they had.
It is true that Mary and Joseph were helped by the limited knowledge they had of the role of Jesus in the salvation of the world. It helped them to be docile to God’s will and ever ready to suffer for the cause of God. But we have even a more comprehensive knowledge of Christ’s role in our regard, and of God’s plan for our real eternal happiness. Therefore, we should be ready to bear our lot, and carry whatever cross is sent us. We know that this life is but a stepping-stone to the next life. It is not the difficulty or case of our lot here below that matters, but rather the use we make of the few years allotted us.
Mothers of families: make Mary your model. Keep the love of God alive and active in your home. The love of neighbor, peace and harmony among the members of the family will follow automatically. Fathers: you have the patient Saint Joseph as your model. He labored, day in and day out, often without any temporal reward, often regretting that he could not provide better for his beloved wife and dearly loved adopted son. But he too accepted God’s plan. He was glad to suffer as God’s chosen associate in the preparation of the human nature of Jesus for the messianic ask that lay ahead. Children: love, honor and obey your parents, as Jesus loved, honored and obeyed Mary and Joseph. He, the Son of God, the Creator and Lord of all things, was subject to His parents, to Mary His Mother and to Joseph His foster-father.
Let us try to make the holy home of Nazareth the model of our homes and imitate the Holy Family in our daily lives. Then when the time comes to bid adieu to this world, we shall be able, like Simeon and Anna, to thank God from our hearts for having been given a vision of the Messiah, not only in our last days, but all through life. We shall be able to say, “Now, Master, You may let Your servant go in peace, according to Your word” (Luke 2:29). We shall be ready to face our Judge, because we will have obeyed and loved Him all through our lives. So may it be.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, to me the Holy Family is a model of religious observance, in prayerfulness and fidelity to God through light and darkness, joy, and sorrow, breaking and growing. Let Your Holy Spirit keep guiding me to become a good disciple of Christ, and to spread His Good News to others I meet. Amen.
Jakarta, 26 December 2020
A Christian Pilgrim