Sunday, 29 December 2019 : 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 Sunday in the Octave of Christmas, all of us celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the Holy Family of Bethlehem, the family of the Lord and Saviour of the world, as the model for all of our Christian families all over the world. It was through this loving family that Our Lord was born into the world, and this feast today is an important reminder for all of us to keep our families in good condition.

The Holy Family principally is about Christ of course, the One Who is the reason for us to rejoice at Christmas and the One Who made this Family to be different and distinct apart from any other families of the world, for He is the very Son of God, Who came into the world incarnate in the flesh through His mother Mary, a pivotal moment in the salvation of mankind, for through Him God willed the salvation of all His people.

And then as mentioned, the Family has a mother in Mary, the mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and because Jesus is both Man as He is also God, Mary is the Mother of God. She herself is also an integral part of the Holy Family, as no family can exist without a mother figure. It was through her that the Messiah entered this world, dwelling in her womb, the very first Tabernacle, for nine months long.

Finally, we have St. Joseph, as the father and head of the Holy Family, just as the other families are headed by the fathers of the respective families. Although St. Joseph was not the biological father of the Lord Jesus, but as the legally and lawfully married husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus, St. Joseph was the legal father and foster-father of the Lord, and therefore also an integral part of the Holy Family of Bethlehem and Nazareth.

It was this Holy Family that travelled all the way from Nazareth to Bethlehem over two millennia ago, at the time appointed by the Lord for the great census ordered by the Roman Emperor Augustus, that the Messiah could be born as prophesied and intended, in the city of Bethlehem, the city of King David. And St. Joseph helped to bring the heavily pregnant Mary through the difficult and long journey, as a caring, loving and dutiful husband.

He was the one to guide Mary through Bethlehem on that night when there was no room at all in all the inns and lodging houses of the town, and it was only after a great difficulty that he managed to get a place, unsuitable for any human beings, but was where the Lord and King of all, was to be born, in a small and dirty stable just outside the town of Bethlehem. It was there that night that the Lord was born.

The Holy Family did not have it easy after that, as when the Three Magi came to pay homage and worship the Lord, they warned them to run away from the place and from the domains of king Herod who wanted to kill the Child, seeing Him as a great Rival to his own power, authority and kingdom. St. Joseph had to protect both the Lord Jesus, his foster-Son and Mary, his wife, and brought them to Egypt to protect them from king Herod and his designs.

When king Herod was finally dead a short while later, St. Joseph led both the Lord and His mother Mary back to the land of Israel, back to their home in Nazareth, where St. Joseph reassumed his role and work as the village carpenter, while Mary raised Jesus together with him, as the Lord grew in age and wisdom, in stature and might among the people. And we heard of the Holy Family one last time when the Lord was twelve years old.

At that time, the Holy Family went to the city of Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover, and as the Lord went to the Temple of Jerusalem, He stayed there for a few days unknown to St. Joseph and Mary, who then went to search for Him. The Lord was speaking and discussing with the elders in Jerusalem, and He wanted to stay there, at the House of His true heavenly Father, but He obeyed His foster-father, St. Joseph and His mother, Mary and returned with them to Nazareth.

We see in the Holy Family as the archetype and ideal for the families of all Christians, as the perfect example for each and every one of us to follow. We see in the Holy Family the example of the fatherhood, motherhood and what being children in our holy Christian families ought to be. And it is a truly important reminder for us that our families must be based on the loving relationship and the faith found in the Holy Family.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Feast of the Holy Family therefore, all of us are reminded that the institution of the family is one that is very important to our lives, to our faith and to our journey as Christians in this world, one that we cannot and should not take lightly especially as we should be aware of just how the institution of the family has been constantly under attack from those who seek to destroy us and the Church.

For the Christian families are the foundations of the Church, the pillars that kept the faith alive in countless generations of Christians throughout the history of mankind. Christian family, like the Holy Family it is modelled after, is the first Church for all Christians, where the young and the children first learn about the faith from their parents, and where in turn the parents pass down what they know about the faith to their children.

It is within our families that we live and journey through our Christian lives and faith together. We persevere through the challenges of this world together, as each one of the families, be it as a father, as a mother, or as a child, as a grandmother, grandfather, grandchild, or more. And we are then ultimately connected one another, in extended families and by the common adoption as sons and daughters of God, as brothers and sisters to each other in the large family of the Universal Church.

The devil and all of his allies seeking our downfall and destruction know very well that the family is the bedrock of our faith, and the protection against the corruption and temptations that often turn many people away from God. That is why he directed and concerted all the attacks against the families of the faithful, tempting all to break the faithful unions apart, making people to believe less in their matrimonial bonds and in their families.

That is why there are so much disobedience within the families, there are so many infidelities and unfaithfulness, people cheating against their spouses and betraying their own family members. That is why jealousy, hatred, anger and many other negativities often reign in our families, among our relationships and friendships, in our communities and societies. All these are caused by the devil and all of his machinations to destroy us from within.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is where all of us are called to look at the Holy Family of Our Lord Jesus, His mother Mary and His foster-father St. Joseph for inspiration and strength, that we may model our own families in the mould of the Holy Family. We are called to follow the example of Christ’s obedience to His parents on earth, the love He had for them, and the love which Mary and St. Joseph had for their Son, and for each other.

Are we able to imitate and show this same love within our own families? Are we able to grow in faith and journey together with our most loved ones, beginning from our families? Remember the saying, brothers and sisters in Christ, that the families that pray together, eat together and do things together with faith, will stay together. And also, that when two or three or more are gathered in the Lord’s Name, He will be with us.

That is why, let us all be inspired by the Holy Family and strive to do our best to model ourselves and our own families after their good examples. Let us all rejoice together in this glorious and joyful season of Christmas as faithful and devout Christian families, all seeking not the selfish love of oneself, and resisting the temptations of pleasures of the flesh and all that often led to the destruction of families and relationships, instead, loving one another sincerely and with all of our hearts, from now on.

May God bless us all and our families, that truly from now on, all of us will enthrone Him at the centre and heart of our Christian families and communities, uniting ourselves to Him and to the large family of all the faithful children of God, the one family of God’s One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Amen.