Sunday, 31 December 2017 : Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the important feast day of the Holy Family, which consists of firstly, the Lord Jesus Himself, together with His mother Mary, as well as His foster father, St. Joseph. All of them are role models for all of our families, and we ought to look up to them as our examples.

First of all, the Lord Jesus showed Himself as an example of an obedient son and child. Even though He is God, Lord and Master of all the universe, and by that fact, the Master of His own earthly parents, and yet, He obeyed them and listened to them. He followed them back to Nazareth when He went missing and was found in the Temple of Jerusalem at twelve years old.

He obeyed His mother and foster father, and grew up under their loving care. In turn, He also loved them deeply and cared for them, and while we did not have much information with regards to St. Joseph, who probably passed away before Jesus began His ministry, but it is likely that He learnt much about worldly matters and trades from St. Joseph, a hardworking and upright carpenter by trade.

Meanwhile, Mary is a loving mother and obedient wife, upright in all of her actions, and she cared a lot for her family members. She cared for her Son Jesus, and followed Him through life and through His ministry years, all the way to Calvary. She had to endure many things and sufferings, great sorrow and pain of seeing her own Son suffer and die before her very own eyes.

Nonetheless, Mary remained committed to her calling and vocation, and despite all the challenges she had to face, she entrusted herself completely to the Lord and obeyed His plans. She walked and persevered through the path which the Lord had pointed out to her. She faithfully followed that path, and she gave her all to her Son, Jesus.

And St. Joseph, as the nominal head of the family, was a good example and father figure, protecting and supporting the Holy Family members. Even though Jesus was not his biological son, but nonetheless he gave Him the loving care of a father, protecting Him and Mary since the moment of His birth, escorting them to Egypt when His enemies rose up against Him and wanted to kill Him, and then later on, guiding them back to Nazareth, where he gave Jesus the loving experience of having a good father.

Nazareth was a small and poor village, and St. Joseph was a carpenter. Even though the detailed explanations are not listed in the Gospels, but by understanding historical and societal considerations of that time, we can see just how challenging it was for St. Joseph and for the Holy Family. Carpenter was not a well paying job and a very hard work at that, and yet, St. Joseph did his best to provide for the Holy Family as the likely only breadwinner.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, looking at the examples shown by the Holy Family, we must be wondering what is it that kept the Holy Family together, so wonderfully and so well. What is the secret behind the perfect harmony and love within that model Family? It is none other than because, they have God in their midst and placing Him at the centre of their family. For the Holy Family, this fact happened literally and figuratively.

What do I mean, brothers and sisters? First of all, God is literally at the centre of the Holy Family, because we believe that Jesus Christ, is the Son of God, just as He is also the Son of Mary. Jesus, having both the human nature from His mother Mary, as well as the divine nature of being the Divine Word of God incarnate into flesh, is the centre of the Holy Family, as God made Man.

Then, I mentioned God being the centre of the Holy Family in figurative terms, because, the Holy Family was built upon the foundation of God’s love. Yes, as mentioned, the members of the Holy Family loved one another tenderly, and they were all united in love. They obeyed God, and surely they must have worked together, sat together at the table and eat, did many things together, and prayed to God together.

Therefore, God was always at the heart and centre of their family, the Holy Family, and all of our Christian families should also do the same with our own family. Now, let us spend some time to reflect and think about how our families have functioned thus far, and whether we have followed in the footsteps of the Holy Family, or whether we have instead fallen into the temptations of this world, as what had happened to many families around the world.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, surely all of us can see how all around us, the institution of the family, and by that extension, the institution of the sacred marriage itself have been threatened from many sources. There are many more and more couples and families being torn apart due to divorces, infighting as well as insatiable personal desires and greed, many of which are caused by a singular, ultimate reason, and that is, the lack of real, genuine love.

There are many examples of marriages and families that were not built up upon the foundation of strong, genuine love. Marriage, family and everything have been bound up with the materialistic attitudes of this world, where more and more worldly pursuits, for money, for pleasures of the body and the flesh, for personal glorification and ambition are clouding our judgments and our ability to love. Worst of all, we treat each other as nothing more than commodities or opportunities.

And still, many of us have treated children as if they are burdens to us, unwanted and undesirable. It is this very attitude which have caused the destruction of many families and lives, including the frequent and rampant use of contraceptive methods to prevent pregnancies and birth, abortion that destroys human life and sin against God, and the reduction of human relationships into one focused on pleasure and bodily desires.

All of these are just some of the many reasons why our families and our sacred marriages are under great threat everywhere, and where many families have been broken, and many children have become the unintended victims of these wickedness that unfortunately have been performed by many of us, because of our inability to strive to make our families like that of the Holy Family, and instead, succumbing to sinful desires and temptations.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all look upon the examples set by the Holy Family, of Our Lord Jesus, Mary His mother and St. Joseph, His foster father. If we have not placed God in the centre of our family lives, then perhaps it is a good time for us to do so. For God is the sure and steady foundation of our family live, as God Himself is Love, and He has shown us true and genuine love, and if there is real and genuine love in our families, as well as in our marriages, then even though we may struggle in life and in our relationships, but eventually, we will be able to manage.

Let us all learn to love genuinely, especially within our families, and see children as gifts from God, the gift of life, through our own sacred act of procreation through marriage. God has given the child the same gift of life that He Himself has given to each one of us, to both the husband and the wife. And when we model ourselves upon the examples of the Holy Family, where the husband, the wife and the children support one another and are integral to each other, then surely our family too will become better.

May the Lord bless us all, and be with all of our families, so that we may strive to build true Christian families based on love, and not just any love, but real and genuine love inspired by the very selfless love that God Himself has given us, through His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. And let us also always keep in mind, the loving relationship and union which He has with His most blessed and loving mother Mary, and with His ever faithful and dedicated foster father, St. Joseph. May God be with our families and keep us all united in love, forevermore. Amen.

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