HOMILY FOR THE HOLY FAMILY OF JESUS, MARY AND JOSEPH  YEAR C 2021

HOMILY FOR THE HOLY FAMILY OF JESUS, MARY AND JOSEPH  YEAR C 2021

1 Sam. 1:20-22.24-28/ Ps.8/ 1John 3:1-2.21-24/ Luke 2:41-52

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Fr. Daniel Evbotokhai 

Towards a Better Family life

Today the Church celebrates the feast of the Holy family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. The Feast is held on the Sunday between Christmas and New Year’s Day; if both are Sundays, the feast is celebrated on December 30th. The primary purposes of this feast are to pray for families and to model our families after the Holy Family. Providentially, this feast comes up towards the end of the year when many homes are having family reunions. As such, the inspirations in today’s readings are to foster and encourage better family life.

The gospel makes us to understand that the parents of Jesus brought Jesus to the Temple, to fulfill the Law. It is said that the family is the first agent of socialization; it is also necessarily an agent of spiritualization. We have the duties to introduce our children to God and the Church. It is our duty to introduce them to the faith and the discipline of the faith. Little wonder we baptize infants and ensure they are well brought up in the faith. So sad, many Christian families today are ready to go any length to get the best for their children except for their spiritual development. Beloved, draw your children to God; ensure they identify with the spiritual, religious and cultural demands of their age. 

Again, the gospel makes us to understand that the parents of Jesus were looking for Jesus after their religious observance in the temple. The Bible says for three days they were searching for him until they found him in the temple. Beloved, you will always find Jesus in the Church; Prov. 8:17 says those that seek me diligently shall find me. Three days search was a diligent search. Can we not abstain from worldliness even though it is for three days in order for us to seek and find Jesus? We can search him in diligent study of the scriptures; earnest prayers and penance. In Jer.29:13 the Bible says if you seek me with your heart you will find me; Ps.9:10 says God has never forsaken those who seek him and in Ps. 34:10 it says; those who seek the Lord lack no blessing.

The Gospel is also a lesson on crisis management. Crisis is part of family life; we may not go through crisis the same way but surely it does come. For the Holy Family; the period that Jesus was not with them was a period of crisis. The parents of Jesus had many anxieties about the Child Jesus; even at betrothal, Joseph was traumatized because Mary was already pregnant.  What happens when your daughter comes home pregnant outside wedlock? Crisis is not new in family history. The first family found faults with each other; Cain killed his brother Abel; Noah and his daughter committed abomination, Abraham and Sarah battled with infertility; Abraham could not make peace between Sarah and Hagar; Abraham and Lot separated; Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers; Miriam and Aaron were against their brother Moses; the first speaks of Hannah’s gratitude for a success story despite her pains; David was guilty of adultery and homicide; Tobit and Job faced misfortunes; there are many examples in the scriptures.

What then is the way out? Families must learn to clothe themselves in humility, patience, love and forgiveness (Col3:12-14). Without forgiveness, families cannot live together. The second reading reminds us that love is the secret of harmony in families. Again, families must learn to pray together; the popular axiom says “a family that prays together stays together”. Bring Jesus into your family and the crisis will be subdued. Life without Christ is filled with crises. When Christ comes in, that crisis will be subdued. They are called Holy Family not because they never had crisis and troubles but because they obeyed the voice of God in every situation. Irrespective of the crisis you go through if you align with God and obey his voice; your family too can be holy.

Lastly, the first reading reminds us that children are gifts from God. The success story of Hannah challenges us not to give up in the face of crisis. And eventually, when we are blessed we should not forget to fulfill the promise made to God. The Lord rewarded Hannah not only with a son but also making him a prophet in Israel. Beloved, the Lord rewards those who keep his words.

LET US PRAY

O God, who were pleased to give us the shining example of the Holy Family, graciously grant that we may imitate them in practicing the virtues of family life and in the bonds of charity, and so, in the joy of your house, delight one day in eternal rewards. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Fr. Paul Oredipe

FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY   

Within few days after the celebration of the birth of Christ at Christmas we celebrate today the feast of the Holy Family – the Family of Jesus, Mary and the child Jesus.  Among other things, the feast of today reminds us that the child who was God grew up as a member of a human family.  Even though Jesus did not have a biological father, he was born into a human family – one with father, mother, aunts, uncles, cousins just like ours.”  In order to become fully man, God himself needed a family.  The Messiah began his redemptive task in the bosom of a simple, ordinary family.  The first thing that Jesus sanctified with his presence was a home.  This feast is a reminder that Jesus came on earth to make a place for each one of us in God’s family – Church as a family. 

What is really great about this feast day is that it is about something to which we can readily relate.  It is not theological or doctrinal.  It is about the real stuff that you and I have to deal with every single day of the year, and so when we celebrate the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, we also celebrate our own families.  Historically, the Church has given us the Holy Family as a model for Christian living.  Yet, this model does not work for some of us because we reason, “Jesus was God, Mary was born without original sin, and Joseph had to be a saint to be able to deal with everything thrown at him.  How can we possibility be like them?” 

Let us see – At the beginning, there was talk of divorce because of Mary’s pregnancy.  Thank goodness, that matter was resolved.  Even before coming to live together, Mary was found to be with child.  What a disaster and ridicule for Joseph.  Think about the journey to Bethlehem for the census as Mary was already heavy with child.  When it was time for the child to be born there was no space even in the inn.  The housing problem was real indeed.  The manger was his first bed.  Perhaps there was an experience of gladness and joy at the visit of the shepherds, the song of the angels and the visit of the 3 Wise men.  But before they knew it, this new-born child became the target of Herod’s envy and anger.  They had to flee to a foreign country.  What a horrible journey in the cold night to Egypt where they lived in exile, as an alien, indeed one can say, like a refugee.  I bet you, there was no weather forecast to warn them. 

The presentation in the temple also had its unpleasant side.  The prophecy of Simeon that this child is set for the fall and rising of many and that a sword will pierce the soul of Mary could not have been so heart breaking and enigmatic to Joseph and Mary.  From the beginning, the child they loved and cherished was a mystery to Mary and Joseph and as he grew up under their protection, all they could do was to place their trust in God.  At the age of twelve, Jesus got lost during the visit to Jerusalem.  Those three days of searching for Him were certainly full of fear and sorrow. 

We can continue to count the many experiences of mixed feelings within the Holy Family of Nazareth.  Of course, we cannot forget the final event in the life of Christ.  Those days of passion, crucifixion and death of Christ were really hectic horrible and agonizing for Mary to say the least.  I wonder the sorrow in her heart as she met Jesus on the way of the cross and later held his body before burial in a lonely tomb. 

What all these images tell us is that indeed the Holy Family of Joseph, Mary and Jesus is a model and example for all of us in our journey of life and faith.  As we celebrate this feast today, we are called upon to examine and reflect on the importance and sacredness of the family as the basic unit of society and even of church life.  This feast provides an opportunity to reflect on the quality of our home and family life, in so far as they imitate the values of the Holy Family of Nazareth. 

Families are the natural and fundamental units upon which all societies are built.  It is the main school of all the social virtues.  It is the seed-bed of social life.  For it is in the family that we learn to practice obedience, a concern for others, a sense of responsibility, understanding and mutual help, a loving co-ordination of essentially different characters.  The family is the first school of life and love, and each of us is marked indelibly by our own family and childhood experience.  Children become, later in life, what their homes have made them.  Indeed, it has been proved that the health and progress of a society is measured by the health of its families.  In a sense, the work of creating continues in the family.  Parents are partners with God. 

From earliest times, the Church has recognized that because the family is the primary human community, it must also be central to the life of the Church.  We learn about God through our human experience of love.  Family relationships are among the deepest we can form.  Jesus was able to call God “Abba” Father only because of his own loving relationship in his human nature with his father, Joseph. 

It was through Joseph’s love and care that He had first learned what a father was.  In our case too, it is normally an experience of love that enables us to glimpse the meaning of the word “love” in God.  Every time we experience love it is as if God were giving us a hint of the meaning of lovableness in Him.  Indeed when we truly love, we also gain some idea of what we mean to God, and what He should mean to us. 

The Holy Family had a real disagreement – so do not feel bad.  There was a very honest exchange of thoughts and feelings.  There was an attempt to understand, and in the end, there was an atmosphere where the child could continue to grow in wisdom, age, and grace.  There was no winner or loser.  And I believe that is the positive and consoling message for us.  Disagreements are inevitable, but it is when selfishness enters the picture that we deal with the need to win or the need to have the upper hand or the need not to back down or give in no matter what. 

Our celebration today calls us to follow the model of the Holy Family.  For any relationship of love to flourish, it requires the lovers to put each other’s good before their own.  It therefore demands an element of imagination and understanding, of self-sacrifice, compromise and, I am sure, sheer hard work.  Taking family responsibilities seriously leads people away from regarding themselves as the center of their world, and to accept the claims by partners, children and parents.  There can be no family life of any kind without a sacrificial love on the part of each member. 

Family (and only community) life has to be made, created.  And that is hard.  Love is hard because it requires the decentralising of self, it demands living for others instead of oneself.  And every member of the family bears responsibility for the success of the entire family effort.  This is one great lesson we can learn from the Holy Family of Joseph, Mary and the child Jesus.  Each of them had to give way thereby avoiding personal gratification and selfishness in order to fulfill their obligation as a family – community of life and love.  They all worked out their calling in mutual self-giving and love, even in the midst of those difficulties and trials. 

The human being is created for love and in love.  He or she “remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, … if he does not experience it and make it his own”.  This love is not a fleeting emotion, but an intense and enduring moral force which seeks the good of others, even at the cost of self-sacrifice.  The family which lives this love, even though perfectly, and opens itself generously to the rest of society, is the primary agent of a future of peace.  A civilization of peace is not possible if love is lacking. 

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph…in their struggles, fear and anguish recorded in the Gospel … is a model for our own families that the light of God shines in our midst as we confront the same tensions and crises in our lives. 

The Christian family clearly has an exemplary role to play in this regard. It must have an interior life of communion, harmony, and love of which the goodness can flow into the world outside. How can the Christian family enable itself to play this role? By modelling itself on the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. There was a right relationship between the interior and exterior life of Jesus-we have hitherto called the former his “hidden” life and the latter his “public” life. 

“My mother and brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it”.  We can all be a member of Jesus new family.  There is only one qualification:  to hear the word of God and do it.  God’s definitive word Jesus – word made flesh. 

“Christ is the head of this house.  The unseen guest at every meal.  The silent listener to every conversation”. 

The family that prays together not just says but stays happily together. 

Today we pray to the Holy Family in a very special way for each member of our families and in particular for the ones in most need.  As we do so, let us not forget that larger family of which we are members – the Universal Church, our Local Parish, that we may – in the words of St. Paul – let the words of Christ in all its richness find a home in us. 

May the Holy Family continue to inspire us and make our own homes holy, happy and joyful especially in the New Year coming up.  Amen. 

  

Song: 

My life time, …… My Family 

I thank you, Lord you are holy and forever you are Lord. 

It shall be permanent  

Alleluia ….  to the Lord God, omnipotent  reigneth 

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Fr. Daniel Evbotokhai is a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Auchi, Edo State, Nigeria. He was ordained October 20th, 2018. He offers his daily homilies, talks and articles that bother on, faith, theology, morals and many other burning issues in religion and politics. Fr. Daniel writes poems, inspirational quotes and clips.

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