Skip to main content

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph

In accordance with the new Roman Calendar, the Feast of the Holy Family is celebrated as part of the Christmas Season on the first Sunday after the celebration of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas).  And it seems only fitting, because it is the addition of a child that turns a couple into a family.  And it is that family experience that serves as the basic formation of that child.  Just as we are, in part, a product of our own family experience, Jesus too was a product, in part, of his family experience.  Both Mary and Joseph said "yes" when they were approached by the angel of the Lord, and the three of them together, as family, give us a model of family life.

1 Samuel 1:20-22, 24-28
Psalm 105:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9
1 John 3:1-2, 21-24
Luke 2:41-52

Our first reading is from the first book of Samuel.  Samuel, as we may recall, was the last of the Judges of Israel and a pivotal figure in their transition from a tribal structure to a monarchy.  So what does a story about Samuel have to do with the Holy Family?  As our passage would suggest, Samuel's parents, Hannah and Elkanah, shared something in common with Mary and Joseph... their devotion to God and their willingness to say "yes" to God's plan for their son.  In Hannah's case, she had prayed to God to have a son.  By way of giving thanks for having her prayer answered, she willingly gave up her son to the service of God by handing him over to Eli the great priest and prophet.  Hannah, like Mary, understood her son was destined by God for great things, and willingly followed.  Hannah's story is reflected in our Psalm as we sing, "blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways."

Our second reading takes us from being parents to that of being children.  In a passage from the first letter of Saint John, we are reminded that we are all "children of God."  By following Jesus and by following his commandments, we become like him.  Further, it is the Holy Spirit that reveals this truth to us.  In his letter John calls us "beloved."  Many of the first Christians who heard John's letter were considered outcasts for their belief in Christ, but he provides comfort to them (and us) by revealing that though Christ we are part of a new family, a greater family.

In our celebration of family, our Gospel from Luke give us a unique view into the family life of Jesus.  Jesus is now twelve years old, and as is the family custom, they journey to Jerusalem for the Passover festival.  As Joseph and Mary are with the caravan returning back to Nazareth, they discover that Jesus is missing., so like any concerned parent, they back-track their way to Jerusalem to find him.  They eventually find him at the temple where he has been conversing with the teachers.  Jesus, like the boy he is, doesn't understand his parent's anxiety, but neither do his parents understand him when he assumes they should know why he has stayed behind at the temple.  All ends well as they all return to Nazareth, but this story, unique to Luke's gospel, gives us a special story in which we can, as both children and parents, can relate to our own family experiences.

Final Thoughts:
Family life is not always easy.  As children we find ourselves challenged by parents, teachers, care-givers, and siblings.  As parents we find ourselves challenged by our children, our spouses, our careers.  Yet even with all its challenges, our family lives give us purpose and teach us love.  The family unit is the most basic element of humanity and is one of those aspects of our humanity that we share with Jesus.  The blessings of family life, and the challenges of family life.  This feast day is a reminder that Jesus is our brother, and through him we are all children of God.


Popular posts from this blog

3rd Sunday of Advent

The third Sunday of Advent marks the midpoint of the season… in Catholic terms, this is like “hump day”, where we happily see that the conclusion of our journey is within sight.  Referred to as Gaudete Sunday, it takes its name from the Latin word for rejoice.  We will hear this word several times throughout this Sunday's Mass in our prayers and our readings.  We light the rose colored candle on our Advent wreaths, rose being a mixture of Advent violet and Christmas white.  Not only is Christmas a joyous occasion to celebrate the birth of our Lord, but it reminds us that we are joyous (not fearful) of his return.

The Word for the 3rd Sunday of Advent Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11
Luke 1:46-48, 49-50, 53-54
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8, 19-28

We open with a great announcement from Third Isaiah, that the anointed brings glad tidings to the poor.  If his words sound familiar, they should.  Not only are they reminiscent to the announcement made by the angels to the shepherd in th…

4th Sunday of Lent

This Sunday we continue our Lenten journey through Salvation History with a continued focus on covenant.  We’ve already given witness to the covenants with Noah, Abraham, and Moses.  This week we turn our attention to the Davidic Covenant (the covenant with King David), or more accurately, the covenant with the monarchy of Israel.

The Word for the 4th Sunday of Lent 2 Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23
Psalms 137:1-2, 3, 4-5, 6
Ephesians 2:4-10
John 3:14-21

Our first reading comes from the end of the 2nd book of Chronicles.  Though our intent this Sunday is to remember the Davidic Covenant, our Lectionary has chosen an interesting approach.  Rather than give us a story about King David, we are presented with a story  from the end of the Babylonian Exile.  Why approach the covenant with David from this tail-end view? 

It’s an approach that actually fits very well with the Book of Chronicles, for you see, the Book of Chronicles is much more than a retelling of the story we heard in books …

Nuns and Nones... continued...

On 6-24-2016 I wrote a brief commentary on what we call the "nones"... that is, those people who check the box that says "none" when asked about their religious affiliation.  That commentary was based on an address by my former high school's principal at their 2016 graduation address.  But this topic of the "nones" returned to my attention with this article posted on our daily Angelus News email from the e-magazine Crux:

Notre Dame debuts digital platform to reach young Catholics, ‘nones’
Please take a moment to read it... 

Of particular interest is the increasing number of "nones," those people who claim no religious affiliation. I first heard this term a few years back from one of the speakers at our LA Religious Education Congress. The term itself grew out of a 2012 Pew Research study that showed this rising trend. Working as I do with the RCIA and Adult Faith Formation, this was a known issue, but the Pew study validated what ma…