GOSPEL REFLECTION: Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
GOSPEL: Luke 2:22-40
When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses. Joseph and Mary took Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God saying:
“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.”
The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him, and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold 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.” There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in year’s having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. And coming forward at the very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.
When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong filled with wisdom, and the favor of God was upon him.
The Gospel of the Lord/ Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
On Christmas day we rejoice in the fact that Jesus entered a human family. Our Lord Jesus, although Divine, entered a human family. God for sure intended a family. It is, therefore, most appropriate that we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family on Sunday after the celebration of the birth of Jesus. The Feast of the Holy Family should be very much a part of the Christmas season so that we may continue to reflect on this very mystery of the birth of our Lord Jesus. As we give insights into the Holy Family – the family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph- we are also being invited to look into our own family. Family life indeed is important in our spiritual life. It is said that our home is a small Church. Family and family life, therefore, are integral parts of building up a more intimate and more profound relationship with God. Every family is supposed to be a holy family. This is the same reason why on this Sunday, the Church has put before us the Holy Family to be a model for our families. Thus this Sunday’s liturgy invites us to reflect on the family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph and on the importance of family and family life.
It is safe for me to say that there is no such thing as “perfect family.” We all have shares of flaws, shortcomings, eccentricities, and mistakes. We all have trials, challenges, struggles, and tribulations. Family conflict seems inevitable too. Members at times argue, fight, and hurt each other. In fact, it is said that those people who hurt us the most are people who should love us the most – they are oftentimes members of our own family. Healthy arguments are sometimes necessary in order to know each other deeply that may eventually help build a stronger relationship. And at the end of the day, one may realize that family is family and they are related for better or for worse. Indeed, it takes a lot of hard work to make family relationships really work. You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them. Each family should strive for holiness and to build up strong family ties.
The Holy Family also had their struggles just like our own family. They were not free from worries, stress, and problems. If in life you feel heavily burdened and ready to give up, think of the family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Even at the very beginning, the Holy Family had to experience so many struggles and hardships. Consider the fact that Jesus was born in a manger. And at such a young age, our Lord’s life was already endangered. Herod considered Jesus as a threat to his kingship. He intended to kill the child, Jesus. And so feeling unsafe Joseph and Mary with Jesus had to flee to Egypt. An angel appeared to Joseph in a dream to warn him of the child’s imminent danger – “Get up, take the child and his mother with you and escape into Egypt, and stay there until I tell you because Herod intends to search for the child and do away with him.” (Mt. 2:13) My point herewith, therefore, is that our Lord Jesus although the Son of God wasn’t free from hardships and difficulties.
In my ministry as a priest, oftentimes I am invited to visit certain families. And I can easily tell whether they have a good family relationship by the way they relate with one another especially during meal time. Oh, how I love to see families say grace together and exchange pleasantries. Saying grace is never an old fashion thing. Praying together as a family indeed is important. My mother used to say that having mealtime together is sacred. It is the time when we rejoice, appreciate and celebrate our being a family united in love and mutual respect. And by the time that members of a family stop eating together and trying to avoid each other, but when they do every conversation will end up to a heated argument, then their family is in trouble. It is hard to win any conflict without hard feelings. But each one should learn to reach out and learn to forgive just as you are a family despite the differences and shortcomings. You are a family when you learn to put your arms around each other and love each other even when you are not so lovable.
Story: (from an unknown source)
When I was a kid, my mom liked to make breakfast food for dinner every now and then. And I remember one night in particular when she had made dinner after a long, hard day at work. On that evening so long ago, my Mom placed a plate of eggs, sausage and extremely burned biscuits in front of my dad. I remember waiting to see if anyone noticed! Yet all dad did was reach for his biscuit, smile at my Mom and ask me how my day was at school. I don’t remember what I told him that night, but I do remember watching him smear butter and jelly on that biscuit and eat every bite!
When I got up from the table that evening, I remember hearing Mom apologize to my dad for burning the biscuits. And I’ll never forget what he said: “Honey, I love burned biscuits.”
Later that night, I went to kiss Daddy good night and asked him if he really liked his biscuit burned. He wrapped me in his arms and said, “Your Momma put in a hard day at work today and she’s really tired. And besides- a little-burned biscuit never hurt anyone.
Moral lesson: Life is full of imperfect things and imperfect people. To learn to accept each other’s faults – and choosing to celebrate each other’s differences – is one of the most important keys to creating a healthy, growing, and lasting relationship.
The love in the family is important than anything else this world has to offer. When Michael J. Fox was asked his opinion about a family, he said- “Family is not an important thing. It is everything!” It is said that “Charity must begin at home, and in case if it does not …at least it must come home.”
Father Patrick Peyton popularized this slogan to promote the importance of family life – “The family that prays together stays together.” For indeed it is so. Prayer and faith in God play important roles in family life. If families are rooted in faith and love of the Lord then there are more chances for the society to achieve proper order.
May the Holy Family be our inspiration, guidance, and strength so that our families will triumph all the challenges of life through Love, mutual respect and deep faith in God.