The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
Reading 1 SIR 3:2-6, 12-14
Responsorial Psalm PS 128:1-2, 3, 4-5
- (cf. 1) Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways.
Reading 2 COL 3:12-21
Alleluia COL 3:15A, 16A
- Alleluia, alleluia.
Let the peace of Christ control your hearts;
let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel LK 2:22-40
Homily—December 30 & 31, 2017 Feast of the Holy Family
Over Christmas I was able to visit my sister, Judi, and one of my niece’s and one of my nephew’s and their families.We had a white elephant gift exchange with the gifts changing hands a number of times. I also was able to visit two of my brothers and some of their families too. I found that I was quite tired and it took me a couple of days to feel rested again.Being one of seven children and having 22 nieces and nephews and 33 great nieces and nephews I realize the importance of family and also some of the challenges. My family helped form me both in faith and as a person.
Imagine Abram who was aware of God’s promises but at the age of 75 was thinking he would never have an heir and thought his inheritance would be going to his chief steward. What a surprise and blessing it was for him and Sarah to have an heir born to them. His bloodline can now continue. Because of Abram’s trust in God he wins God’s favor. He certainly had to wait a long time—his trust and perseverance was greatly tested. He names his son Isaac; meaning “may God laugh in delight” or “smile upon”.
Through Abram, we see what faith is.Faith is not blind trust, it is rooted in a dynamic relationship centered in dialogue, honesty and mutual trust. God entrusts Abram with a series of promises, and Abram trusts in God to bring the promises to fulfillment. hey both remain faithful to each other.This two-way relationship is the foundation of righteousness and a quality of right relationship.
Abraham is referenced in the second reading from Hebrews as a powerful example of faith.His descendants would be as “numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sands on the seashore.” He trusted God so much that he was willing to sacrifice his son if necessary. I don’t know how he would have been able to do that. That faith and trust is more than I can understand.
In the gospel of Luke we have Joseph and Mary bringing Jesus to Jerusalem for his presentation. They offer a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons which is the offering of a poor family. A well to do family would have offered a lamb. They find an old man by the name of Simeon waiting for them in the temple. His name means “God has heard”. Guided by the Holy Spirit he is present in the temple when Jesus is presented and he takes Jesus into his arms and says:
“Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.”
Simeon feels his life is now complete and gives a blessing to Joseph and Mary before saying to Mary “this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted—and you yourself a sword will pierce—so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” This was certainly a reminder to Mary and Joseph of the specialness of their child who is the Messiah, our Redeemer.
Anna, which means “grace” or “favor” is the next to encounter the Holy Family and give thanks to God and she speaks about him to all “who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.” Anna was 84 and known for her fasting and prayers every day in the temple.
The gospel ends with the statement that they returned to Nazareth where “the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom and the favor of God was upon him.” I am sure we would all like to know more about the life of the Holy Family. Do what you can to foster good relations in your family and extended family.
All three readings this weekend center on family, faith and legacy. Abraham and Sarah, Joseph and Mary, Simeon and Anna were all righteous people of deep faith. All received divine promises that God fulfilled because they believed. These readings invite us to think about family, to re-evaluate our understanding of legacy to believe whole-heartedly in the One whose word and promises are true.