The Feast of the Holy Family (NAB Translation)
Each year we have twelve official days of Christmas to contemplate the mystery of the incarnation and to meditate on the humanity of Christ as well as his divinity. The Feast of the Holy Family is one of the feasts woven into the twelve days of Christmas where we reflect on Jesus’ family and what it can teach us about the meaning and purpose of our own human families.
In the First Reading, from the book of Sirach, we are given what is essentially a meditation on the fourth commandment, Honor your father and your mother. This passage reminds us that it really DOES matter that we teach children to respect their elders, that it really DOES matter how younger generations treat the older generation. This passage has much to say to our current youth culture where these values often have not been practiced or emphasized enough, resulting in family breakdown. We must decisively resist the temptation to ignore or disrespect our elders, which may not always be easy when their needs seem inconvenient or interfere with our personal ambitions or desires.
In the Responsorial Psalm (128:1- 5), the psalmist addresses the topic of family life and blesses those who “walk in the way of the Lord.” The main point of this Psalm is that family life has to be ultimately oriented towards God, and subordinated to God. When this happens, human relationships including families are more likely to be well-ordered, happy, and successful.
The Second Reading is from St. Paul’s Letter to the Colossians (3:12-21). This passage gives guidance on virtue in a pattern that scholars believe forms the structure of a primitive Christian catechism. When Saint Paul writes about “clothing” ourselves with virtues like humility and gentleness, etc. the language Paul uses gives a depiction of the Christian candidate coming up out of the baptismal font to be clothed with a fresh robe after their sins have been washed away through baptism. This reading relates well to the Feast of the Holy family because it is truly in FAMILY LIFE where we begin to acquire these virtues and perhaps where they are most needed!
There has been controversy regarding the verse that says, “Wives, give way to your husbands, as you should in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and treat them with gentleness.” However when all of Paul’s writings are taken as a whole we begin to see that authority, responsibility, and obedience, are matters that should be oriented towards God and not self. The essence of his teaching therefore is that all relationships should be ordered and proceed from a place of love and charity, and that everyone be treated with respect and dignity.
In the Gospel Reading, from Matthew, we see a strong resemblance between the Joseph of the Christmas story and the Joseph of the Exodus story. Both have a dream, go to Egypt, and save the family. On a practical level, we see the fully human family in which Jesus was born and that even they had hardships, fears and difficult times. They were a real family in a real time and place who faced real challenges but they had a strong Faith and were willing to sacrifice and do the will of God.
Reflection done by Steve Scott
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