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Doctrines & Morals
 
 
 
Homilies/Reflections

Holy Family
By FR JULIUS OLAITAN

THE HOLY FAMILY OF JESUS MARY AND JOSEPH (YEAR B)

 

We give thanks to God for the gift of life today and for the gift of one another particularly our families. The Church puts the example of the Holy Family of Nazareth, Jesus, Mary and Joseph before us today on the octave of Christmas as the ideal family because of their faith in God, their commitment to fulfilling the commands of God and the parental care that Joseph and Mary provided the Child Jesus. Every child deserves good and caring parents. I must count myself privileged to have come from a home where everything revolved around the Church, the School and family trade, where our parents tried daily to remind us to live out what we heard in Church. May Joseph and Mary always intercede for our homes and families. Amen.

 

 

First Reading (Genesis 15:1-6,21:1-3)

In this passage we are led to look at the life and faith of Abram who was renamed Abraham later by God. He had been called by God to leave behind his known environment and to journey to a place God will show to him. His life and family is built on this faith in God. Abram obeyed and this was counted as justifying him. One major challenge in his life however, was that he had no child despite the promise of a family,  and at his old age he was yet to see that promise fulfilled. Abram must have been troubled by the fact that it was getting late to have a child as promised and summed up courage as in today’s passage to express the uncertainties that he faced to God. “O Lord, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus? Behold you have given me no offspring; and a slave born in my house will be my heir.” In response God led him out of his tent and asked him to look up to the sky beholding its beauty in the array of stars and the heavenly bodies. God then said, “Look towards heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them… so shall your descendants be.” Abram once again believed. That is incredible. Without seeing the results, Abram trusted in the word of the Lord. 

 

God did fulfil his promise as Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son who was named Isaac. This birth is the first tangible sign of the fact that the promise made by the Lord will be fulfilled.

As humans, we are often in a hurry to see our dreams come real. Sometimes we get into such a hurry and practically deviate from the way of faith and then fall into faithlessness as we seek earthly solutions that often leave us empty. The faith of Abraham is therefore a challenge even in a world that believes so much in science—“seeing is believing.” 

 

Second Reading (Hebrews 11:8.11-12.17-19)

In this passage, the author seems to take up the faith that was counted as justifying Abraham as his theme. He traced the story back to the call of Abraham, his acceptance of God’s message without doubt, his willingness to leave behind his father’s land and everything he was used to in pursuit of the fulfilment of his call, his faith in the fact that though he was old and the wife beyond the age of child-bearing the one who called him can make things work to their good and the fact that even when they eventually had just one child he did not hesitate to offer him up on demand by God. Abraham did receive Isaac back with a further promise that God will not fail to multiply him. It is on this faith of Abraham that the family of God depends. He is therefore considered the father of all believers in God.

As a family of God’s people we trace our roots back to that faith exhibited by Abraham. The faith of Abraham which rose to the level of believing that God can bring life out of death, is what we celebrate in the birth, death and resurrection of God’s only begotten Son who has called us all to become sons and daughters of God through the grace of baptism.

 

Gospel (Luke 2:22-40)

Luke in this passage tells us of the faithfulness of Joseph and Mary to laid down Jewish traditions. They came to the Temple for the rite of purification as required by the Law of Moses. Jesus himself has come to fulfil the Laws and not to abolish them. They also came to offer in sacrifice, a pair of turtle doves or two young pigeons—the offering of the poor.

 

According to the Gospel, “Three events belong to the fortieth day: the ‘purification’ of Mary, the ‘redemption’ of the first-born child Jesus, through an offering prescribed by the law, and the ‘presentation’ of Jesus in the Temple.” (Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives, p.108)

 

It is quite significant that the first outing of Jesus recorded in the Gospels is his journey to the Temple for his Presentation. One could only imagine the joy and the sense of fulfilment for Simeon and Anna who spoke of the mission of the child to the amazement of the parents, when they realised that the prophesies of old have reached their fulfilment, in this appearance of the Messiah in the Temple. Today’s celebration is however not about the feast of the presentation but the Holy Family.

 

In the readings of today therefore, particularly the first and the Gospel, we are presented with two exemplary families. In the family of Abraham, they lived by faith. They trusted God on His word. That was counted as justifying them. The Holy Family of Nazareth followed that example. Mary accepted the Mission of God to be the Mother of the Saviour in great faith, Joseph accepted the word of God through the Angel to take Mary home as his wife and from then on did his very best to raise him and protect the family. Today’s presentation in the Temple is a clear example of how they lived in faith fulfilling the commands of God given by the hands of Moses. Every family must live in faith if they hope to find fulfilment in this life.

 

The Christian family is and must be seen at all times as an intimate community of life and love, at the service of Christ, the Church and the society. The Second Vatican Council tells us that: "...the Christian family, which springs from marriage as a reflection of the loving covenant uniting Christ with the Church, and as a participation in that covenant, will manifest to all people the Saviour's living presence in the world and the genuine nature of the Church. This the family will do by the mutual love of the spouses, by their generous fruitfulness, their solidarity and faithfulness, and by the loving way in which all the members of the family work together". (Gaudium et Spes, 48)

 

Family life is under so much stress today and that has its effects. The struggle to make ends meet is the first strain on family life. The effects are there to see in our children and the society. Parents have to work hard and struggle daily to be able to care for their homes and many times they do this at the expense of their love and their children. They get out early daily for work and return late. Their children are often entrusted to carers or house-helps to mould them. Many times these house-helps are not even carefully selected and what they pass on to the children, is the direct opposite of what the parents are struggling to raise money to do. The children might go to good and expensive schools, but they return home to unlearn that, under an illiterate house-help. Parental care is today lacking in many homes, just because we need to raise money and at the end of the day, the money cannot undo the harm done by the lack of parental care.

 

Some parents have no time to raise their children in religious education or take them to church and when they get out of home they become easy preys to be recruited into all sorts of anti-social and anti religious groups. As difficult as it may be today, parents must set the proper and religious upbringing of their children as a priority and a sacred duty. May the Lord help us all! It is only when we have good homes and proper upbringing of our children that we can hope to have a good society.

 

We pray for parents, that God will grant them the grace to truly take up their responsibilities of leading their homes in the way of God. May they find example and support from the Holy Family. Amen. May the Almighty God bless you, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen! 

 

Have a blessed week and a wonderful New Year ahead.  


 
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