Friday, 30 December 2022 : Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, marking an occasion when we honour the Holy Family of Bethlehem and Nazareth, through which the Saviour has come and entered into our world. Today we celebrate this most wonderful Family, which God had brought and assembled together to be the perfect role model for all of us in how we ourselves should live up our own Christian families to the best of our abilities. The Holy Family inspires each and every one of us that we should live our own Christian living and model our families upon theirs so that we may all draw ever closer to God and be ever more worthy of God and His salvation, as each time passes by. That is why as we continue to progress through this joyful season of Christmas, we are also reminded to remain faithful as Christian families, all dedicated and centred on God.

In our first reading today we heard of the words of the prophet Sirach, in which he highlighted that each of the members of the family ought to do their part and obligations, so that the whole family might exist and work harmoniously together, with the children ought to be caring for their parents and also be obedient to them. However, this does not mean that the parents can then do whatever they wanted to the children. They also have their own responsibilities and duties, as parents of the children, and as well as husband and wife to each other. Every members of the family must also be caring and loving to each other so that the whole family will be united and in harmony. And this is something that our alternative first reading today, also the second reading for those celebrating this Feast as Solemnity, has mentioned as well.

In that passage from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Colossians, the Apostle exhorted to the faithful to do just as the prophet Sirach had mentioned, and added on that each and every members of the faithful must clothe themselves with the virtues of the Lord, with love and kindness, with compassion, humility, meekness and other virtues. If each and every one of us do this, and fill ourselves with those Christian virtues and most importantly love, and also do as the prophet Sirach and St. Paul the Apostle had exhorted all of us to do, in the maintenance of good, harmonious and working relationship within our families, certainly we will be able to maintain good and loving relationship within our families, and help our families to flourish ever further.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard one account from the early life of the Lord Jesus as the King of Judea then, Herod the Great, attempted to kill the Lord to remove Him as a threat to his rule. And we heard how God warned the Holy Family through an Angel who told St. Joseph in a dream to bring both Mary and the Child Jesus away from the land, and escape to the land of Egypt. St. Joseph carried out this mission and instruction most obediently, and cared for both Mary, his wife and his legal child, Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Saviour of the world, during the duration of their stay in Egypt, and then beyond after they have returned from Egypt and back to their hometown in Nazareth. And although it was not mentioned or in any detail in the Scriptures, it can be well assumed that St. Joseph carried out his role as the father of the Messiah really well.

Although St. Joseph was not the biological father of the Lord Jesus, being conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit without any human intervention, he still cared for his foster Son nonetheless, as much as any biological fathers would have done. He did his duties as a father and a loving husband to his wife Mary, and also living his life and acting virtuously, as we all know and are inspired with by his exemplary actions. We can see how as a parent, there are things that those of us parents have to do in caring for our children and also in being good role models to our families, especially to our children. In this, Mary as a most loving wife and mother has also done most wonderfully, in caring for her newborn Child during those difficult moments and throughout as she continued to care for her Son.

Not only that, but as we all know, Mary continued to carry out her loving care and duty even after the Lord Jesus had grown into His full adulthood and began embarking on His mission, as she often followed Him throughout His missions and works, and most importantly, went to follow Him even all the way to the foot of His Cross. There she witnessed something that no mother would have wanted, to see her own Son dying before her. Yet, she persisted and continued to stay by His side to the end. Finally, then the Lord Himself was also an obedient Child and Son, as He listened to His father and mother, as shown in that one occasion when He was left behind at the Temple in Jerusalem, and wanted to stay there. He followed His parents who showed Him their concern of seeing Him being left behind, and returned with them to Nazareth.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, these days there are many threats facing our families, not least because there are many forces trying to shatter the unity of our families apart. Many families had been broken because each and every one of their members had forgotten what families truly mean and what each one of them should base their families on, and most important of that is love. Love is something often lacking in our families today, just because it is the same thing lacking in our marriages these days. People do not marry because they truly love each other, but because of other reasons and for convenience, and hence, when things fall apart, the whole marriage and family naturally fall apart as well. That is what will happen to many of our Christian families as well, if we do not have the strong foundation of love.

When each and every members of the family begin to indulge in selfishness, in greed and desire, that is when the unity and harmony in our families disappear. However, we must also remember that there must be faith in our families too, that each and every members of our families ought to have faith in the Lord, and then enthrone Him in the midst of our every families, in our every hearts. If we put the Lord at the centre of our families, and then most importantly, pray together as a family, and spend time together as a family, all believing in the Lord, then all of us will most likely be able to sustain our families despite the many challenges and opposition that we may face in our journey as families of this world, and as families of our respective Christian communities and societies.

Let us all therefore look upon the good examples set by the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and make them the examples and inspirations for our own families. May the Lord continue to bless and guide us in our lives within our families, that we may remain harmonious and united despite the challenges we may face, and that as a family, each and every one of us may be growing ever deeper in faith and appreciation of the Lord and the love that He Himself has shown us. May our families be blessed and be strong bastions of Christian faith and love, and as the foundations of the Church, may all of our Christian families be ever strong beacons of God’s light, hope and love. May God be with us all, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

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