The Feast of The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph - 26 December 2020
Simeon, the man of God, who was a righteous and devout man prophesized about the baby Jesus: “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel” (Lk 2:34). In the same temple there was also a prophetess, Anna, who was eighty-four years old, also knew who this baby Jesus going to be. It is very essential to note right here that the role of the prophet was not assigned only to men but also to women. I have seen often the neighbours or relatives who come to see the new baby express their feelings towards the lowly child with joy. They say the child looks like its mother or father; it has beautiful eyes, nice cheeks and so on. I have also heard people say about the child and what it may become; just like its father or mother or someone else. In a similar way, both Simeon and Anna incidentally prophesize about this newborn child in a temple in Bethlehem.
The episode that we heard in today’s gospel (Lk 2:22-40) is of such nature that Joseph and Mary being Jews followed the tradition and custom of their religion. People who did not have much connection with the family of Joseph and Mary, prophesize about Jesus’ future. It is a bit challenging to Mary, the mother of Jesus when she hears the unexpected that this child is going to be. The child would be a reason for the fall of many. What Simeon preached is true in the case of Jesus. The son of Mary and Joseph is going to be a reason for the fall and rise of many. He is going to be a preacher, healer, teacher, liberator and for many like Pharisees and teachers of the law pain in their neck.
II. We come from families
Today is also the feast of the Holy family. In this Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph every Christian family finds its true meaning and purpose. In our families, we’re to build up this household, this family, this living temple of God. Therefore, we have this reading on how Joseph and Mary take the child Jesus to the temple as an offering. A large part of Jesus' life was spent in a family. It is said for 30 years. The experience of family life could be experienced in a home. Indian poet and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore says that “Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man” in other words it is a sign that God continues to love us. We are able to have life because of something that is beyond us, invisible and indescribable but in our human language we call “God”. It is God that gives us that life. I think today we have every right to rejoice with our family for giving us life to each one of us. We come from our families and often we do not realize the preciousness of life of each member in our families until the person is far away or no more with us. We take for granted the life of our people, the flesh and blood of our own. Therefore we need to thank God on this feast of the holy family.
Happy homes are the fruit of our faithfulness to the Lord, as we sing in today’s Psalm: "Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways" (Ps 128:1). But the Liturgy is inviting us to see more, to see how, through our family obligations and relationships, our families become heralds of the family of God that He wants to create on earth. Today the family life that we have is quite different (and the way the children are born often out of wedlock, living with single parents, etc). Often personal ambitions, desires, wants and one’s comforts take the primary place and the rest is forgotten. We need to remember today that we do not have a thousand years of life but at the most 100 or 115. Why can’t we live our short life then in a happy and healthy family? Parents live through their children. So why can’t we give our love, and compassion to our offsprings now? It is also timely that we take into consideration the violence that takes place within families.
III. A family makes a person for society and the Church
The family of Jesus has certainly many things to teach us. In family we feel the warmth and learn our worth. Unfortunately, some have to search for a family that knows how to love. In being loved we heal, face our demons, and are set free. The confidence and trust that each one has give us hope to renew that commitment to the family. The second reading gives a number of them: holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, forbearing one another, forgiving each other; above all St. Paul adding to these asks us to put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony (Col 3: 12-21). And he says that the peace of Christ rule in our hearts, to which indeed we were called in the one body. Family is the first unit of society. And for the Christian, the family is the first Church, the domestic church. In the concrete realities of daily life, God’s spirit is felt. We are not alone. To trust God is no leap into the abyss. In ordinary ways of our family settings and living God is already present. When we call, He answers.
Family life is not full of roses. Just as the rose plant has thorns, sometimes things can be messy, disturbing, with its ups and downs, its joys and sorrows, its problems and difficulties. The family of Jesus gave a place of primacy to God, to their Creator. In spite of odds in their life, the family of Jesus felt God had accompanied them. We must not forget that we are born into a human family. That means, we are people of feelings, complaints, and emotions. Above all, we are also spiritual beings who have that inner urge to be with someone who is perfect, who gives, who creates, to whom Jesus refers as "Father". Therefore, we make pilgrimages; we pray as a family; we go out as a family for dinners or outings or holidays. Just as a good tree gives the best fruits, so too, a good family brings out the best people.
Questions for reflections:1. What is your own experience of the family that is attuned with God's purpose of putting you in a human family?
2. How would you describe your life in the family?
So, we pray, that God may continue to bless us and our families. Let God take all our pains, stress, struggles of our families. The holy family may bless us to grow in our commitment and responsibilities towards our families. Amen.
- Olvin Veigas, SJ
26th December 2020