Sunday, 27 December 2015 : 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 on this Sunday after the Solemnity of Christmas, the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus our Lord, Mary His mother and Joseph, His foster father. On this day we honour that sacred family into whom our Lord and God had been born into this world. This is a model family from which all of our families should model after, and we should indeed heed their examples to be practiced in our own.

As we are still in the midst of the joy of the Christmas season, surely all of us are quite aware of the stories and all the things that are related to Christmas, when our Lord Jesus Christ was born into this world. It all began from the time when the Archangel Gabriel came to Mary and broke the news to her that she would be with a Child, bearing the Saviour in her womb and thus becoming the Vessel and Ark of God’s salvation for men.

And then Joseph, the man to whom Mary had been betrothed to, found out about her pregnancy, and thought that she had been unfaithful to him and committed an adultery, and even so, he tried to salvage her reputation by trying not to publicly denounce her or shame her with the revelation of her seemingly out of order pregnancy. But, when the Angel of God appeared to him in his dreams and revealed to him the truth, he faithfully devoted himself to God’s plans through Mary.

And this continued even so difficulties and challenges faced them together, beginning from the time when Mary was about to give birth to our Lord Jesus. She and Joseph had to travel the treacherous and long distance journey from their house in Nazareth in Galilee to the city of David, Bethlehem in Judea, a distance and journey that certainly no heavily pregnant woman should undertake.

But Joseph followed on very faithfully and helped to get Mary to a place where she could deliver her Child, even in a stable. He protected the newborn Child and His mother, and when the king Herod the Great, who heard of the coming of the Messiah who was prophesied to be the King of the Jews and who was jealous of Him tried to kill Jesus, Joseph guided by the Angel of God in his dream led his family into Egypt until all those who sought the death of Jesus were gone.

And Mary herself loved her Son and her husband equally well, and they together lived on in peace in Nazareth upon returning from Egypt, and as we witnessed in the Gospels, they went together to Jerusalem when Jesus was twelve years old, in order to bring Him to the Temple of God in Jerusalem and join in the festival that was occurring there. We can be sure that they prayed together and worshipped the Lord together.

Indeed, it is likely that it was Mary and Joseph who had taught Jesus how to pray and how to live a life devoted to the Lord and to His commandments. Both Mary and Joseph were devout servants of the Lord, who practiced their faith in all their words, deeds and actions. This is a reminder to all the parents out there that it is their responsibility to teach the faith to their children and to teach them about the Lord.

And we should also note how Jesus, even though He purposefully stayed behind in the Temple of Jerusalem, and arguing with his parents that He had to be in His Father’s house, knowing His true identity as the Son of God and the Divine Word made Man, but He still obeyed His mother and His foster father, followed them and obeyed them as He grew up in the reckoning of man’s years.

This reminds us that children should listen to their parents and learn the right things that they teach them. And this also shows that a family that lives in harmony and love will persevere and prosper. This is very important for us to note, as we now live in a time where the respect and the honour given to the institution of family and the values associated with family life has become lessened and lessened ever more over time.

Yes, we should all be aware how family values and the importance of families became eroded over time, and became increasingly so these days, where people could just mock the institution of families, and family life which was once sacred, had been seen by many people as merely a formality and as even a form of archaism and backwardness.

There are many who sought to destroy the fabric of families, and not least, one of the perpetrators is we ourselves. We have not understood what is the importance of families and how relevant is having a good family to us all. In particular, do we all know that families are the basic units of our faith and the Church? And why is this so, brothers and sisters in Christ?

That is because, as I have just mentioned earlier on, it is usually through the family that someone hears about the faith and the Lord. It is the responsibility of the parents and or godparents, as the vow which all of them had spoken at the time of the baptism of their child, which charged them to bring these little children in good faith and understanding of their Lord’s love and will.

A strong family grounded in good faith will be the foundation of a strong Church, and a strong Church in turn will safeguard its many souls from the attacks of the evil one and from the temptation to turn into sin and wickedness. It is the basic unit of the Church, of our faith, and the family is at the frontline of our regular and constant struggle against the devil and the darkness.

And indeed, the devil knows this, and it is one of the primary objectives of the devil to strike at the heart of the family, for if the family is destroyed, then the souls of the faithful will be in great risk indeed. This is why, on this great feast of the Holy Family, let us all uphold our faith through our family. Let us restore the strength and the harmony within our families, so that together as families blessed by God, each of our family members will be able to resist the devil and his assaults.

May the Lord Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man, Who loved and obeyed His earthly parents and listened to them, and Mary, the Mother of God, whose faith and devotion were exemplary, and St. Joseph, foster father of our Saviour in his commitment and hard works inspire us all to do the same with our own families. God bless us and our families, now and forever. Amen.

Sunday, 27 December 2015 : Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 2 : 41-52

Every year the parents of Jesus went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover, as was customary. And when Jesus was twelve years old, He went up with them, according to the custom of this feast. After the festival was over, they returned, but the boy Jesus remained in Jerusalem, and His parents did not know it.

They thought He was in the company, and after walking the whole day they looked for Him among their relatives and friends. As they did not find Him, they went back to Jerusalem searching for Him, and on third day they found Him in the Temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions. And all the people were amazed at His understanding and His answers.

His parents were very surprised when they saw Him, and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Your father and I were very worried while searching for You.” Then He said to them, “Why were you looking for Me? Did you not know that I must be in My Father’s House?” But they did not understand this answer.

Jesus went down with them, returning to Nazareth, and He continued to be subject to them. As for His mother, she kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and age, and in divine and human favour.

Sunday, 27 December 2015 : Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 3 : 1-2, 21-24

See what singular love the Father has for us : we are called children of God, and we really are. This is why the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, we are God’s children and what we shall be has not yet been shown. Yet when He appears in His glory, we know that we shall be like Him, for then we shall see Him as He is.

When our conscience does not condemn us, dear friends, we may have complete confidence in God. Then whatever we ask we shall receive, since we keep His commands and do what pleases Him. His command is that we believe in the Name of His Son Jesus Christ and that we love one another, as He has commanded us.

Whoever keeps His commands remains in God and God in him. It is by the Spirit God has given us that we know He lives in us.

Alternative reading

Colossians 3 : 12-21

Clothe yourselves, then, as is fitting for God’s chosen people, holy and beloved of Him. Put on compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience to bear with one another and forgive whenever there is any occasion to do so. As the Lord has forgiven you, forgive one another.

Above all, clothe yourselves with love which binds everything together in perfect harmony. May the peace of Christ overflow in your hearts; for this end you were called to be one body. And be thankful. Let the word of God dwell in you in all its richness. Teach and admonish one another with words of wisdom.

With thankful hearts sing to God psalms, hymns and spontaneous praise. And whatever you do or say, do it in the Name of Jesus, the Lord, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as you should do in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not get angry with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, because that pleases the Lord. Parents, do not be too demanding of your children, lest they become discouraged.

Sunday, 27 December 2015 : Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 83 : 2-3, 5-6, 9-10

How lovely are Your rooms, o Lord of hosts! My soul yearns, pines, for the courts of the Lord. My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

Happy are those who live in Your house, continually singing Your praise! Happy the pilgrims whom You strengthen, to make the ascent to You.

O Lord of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, o God of Jacob! Look upon Your shield, o God; look upon the face of Your anointed!

Alternative reading

Psalm 127 : 1-2, 3, 4-5

Blessed are you who fear the Lord and walk in His ways. You will eat the fruit of your toil; you will be blessed and favoured.

Your wife, like a vine, will bear fruits in your home; your children, like olive shoots will stand around your table.

Such are the blessings bestowed upon the man who fears the Lord. May the Lord bless you from Zion. May you see Jerusalem prosperous all the days of your life.

Sunday, 27 December 2015 : Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Samuel 1 : 20-22, 24-28

And Hannah became pregnant. She gave birth to a son and called him Samuel because she said : “I have asked YHVH to give him to me.”

Once more Elkanah went to the Temple with his family to offer his yearly sacrifice and to pay his vow to YHVH. Hannah would not go along but she said to her husband, “I will bring the child there as soon as he is weaned. He shall be presented to YHVH and stay there forever.”

When the child was weaned, Hannah took him with her along with a three year old bull, a measure of flour and a flask of wine, and she brought him to YHVH’s House at Shiloh. The child was still young. After they had slain the bull, they brought the child to Eli.

Hannah exclaimed : “Oh, my lord, look! I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to YHVH. I asked for this child and YHVH granted me the favour I begged of Him. Now, I think, YHVH is asking for this child. As long as he lives, he belongs to YHVH.”

And they worshipped YHVH there.

Alternative reading

Sirach 3 : 3-7, 14-17a (Greek Septuagint version – Sirach 3 : 2-6, 12-14)

Whoever honours his father atones for his sins; he who gives glory to his mother prepares a treasure for himself. Whoever honours his father will receive joy from his own children and will be heard when he prays.

Whoever glorifies his father will have a long life. Whoever obeys the Lord gives comfort to his mother. He serves those who brought him to birth as he would serve the Lord.

For kindness done to one’s father will never be forgotten, it will serve as reparation for your sins. In the day of adversity the Lord will remember it to your advantage; for just as ice melts in the heat, so will your sins melt away. The man who abandons his father is like a blasphemer; he who annoys his mother is cursed by the Lord.

My son, conduct your affairs with discretion and you will be loved by those who are acceptable to God.