Sunday, 29 December 2013 : Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Today brethren, as we continue through the Christmas Octave, we celebrate a great feast day, that is the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. The Holy Family symbolises the perfect family, of which we should based our families and indeed our lives on. Our families must be modeled like that of the Holy Family, filled with love, hope, and in total faith and devotion to the Lord our God.

The Holy Family is holy because of Jesus, the Holy One of God is in their midst, but also because the holiness and piety of both Mary and Joseph, who devoted themselves in their own ways, to God, through their lives and their actions, and ultimately through their respective roles in the Holy Family. They were the ones who gave human love, care, and attention to Jesus, who was born into this world, as a weak and fragile Baby, as weak and fragile as we were when we were still infants.

Jesus is the Son, both as the Son of God, the Word of God made incarnate as humankind, made from the divinity and emptied Himself into our humanity, but He is, as mentioned, also the Son of Man, after making Himself to be one of us, sharing in our humanity through Mary, His mother. Jesus is truly the role model for all children, and for all sons and daughters, that they should follow.

Jesus is obedient to His parents, and He listened to them and their words. He obeyed them and was a truly dutiful son. He learnt about this human life and culture of His people from both His father and mother, that is Joseph and Mary. His family showed Him love, affection, and genuine care. He listened to their advices and words, like when Jesus was left behind in the Temple when He was twelve years old. Despite Him wanting to stay behind in the House of His true Father in heaven, He obeyed to their parents and followed them back home to Nazareth.

The family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph might not have been a perfect family from the values and perspectives of our modern world, but they are perfect and they are our role models in family building, because they have love in them. They may not be rich or endowed with wealth, and they did not have a big and marvellous house to live in, but they have love in them. And that is, brethren, what our families should all emulate.

These days, we tend to forget the true values of a family, and instead think and follow in the ways of the world, and of how the world perceives family today. Families are often no longer based on love, and neither did they instill in them the examples and values of the Holy Family, that we had heard today in the first reading, taken from the book of the prophet Sirach, as well as from the letter of St. Paul in the second reading.

People tend to take family lightly and treat it without honour. And this is well-linked to the decline in respect towards marriage and devotion between husbands and their respective wives. Marriage, which forms families, should be based on love and true dedication between the parties involved. Yet, these days, it is quite often that people are not married for love, but instead for lust, for money, and for material benefits rather than true love.

And this can be linked to the continuously increasing rate of divorce between couples, even among those who had just recently married and also among those who had been married for many, many years. In out faith, divorce is sinful before the eyes of God and it is an abhorrence.

Why so? That is because as God had said, that He had made us men and women, that when we join ourselves with one another, and make the solemn vow before God, we are made one by the Lord, and what the Lord had united as one, no one should ever divide. Yet, the reality is that the number of divorces just keep on increasing year after year.

And who is suffering from all these? It is the children, the fruits of the love of marriage. It is the children who suffer when the parents broke their commitment of love and chose to separate the holy bond placed by God between them. They suffer because they can no longer see their parents in their loving unity, and instead what they see is just division and the bitterness between their parents.

This is why it is very, very important for us to consider deeply the true meaning of marriage. We cannot base our marriage on the basis of lust or money, for these are the things that always end up taking advantage of us and destroying relationships more often than they do not. Love is the basis of a happy and loving marriage, as well as that of a happy family. And this is what we should really base our families on, like that of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Joseph, as the saying goes, was a much older man compared to Mary, who was then just a young virgin betrothed to Joseph to be her husband. And yet, despite their age difference, both of them truly loved one another. And even though Jesus was not technically his son, because He was conceived by the Holy Spirit as God Incarnate, Joseph still loved and cared for Jesus as if He was his own.

Joseph was a role model to all fathers, in his upright life, that he did not engage in licentious acts or any act of wickedness in opposition to the way of the Lord. Joseph offered protection to both Mary and the Child Jesus, when they were in difficulty, providing support to Mary throughout her pregnancy with Jesus, and then led them to Egypt when he was warned that King Herod wanted Jesus dead.

Joseph worked hard as a carpenter, in order to provide for both Mary and Jesus. Even though he was a poor carpenter, he did not complain. That is why St. Joseph, besides as the foster father of Jesus, is also known to be the patron saint of workers. He also dutifully fulfilled his role as the father figure to Jesus.

And Mary, as we all know, is totally devoted to her Son. She followed Him through many places, and in many important moments of His life. Ever since Jesus was conceived through the Holy Spirit in her womb, to His birth, and through His suffering and path towards Calvary, Mary is always at the side of Jesus, her Son.

Indeed, all these showed how a family should function, that is in togetherness, in unity, and in love. The father loves the mother and the child, the mother loves the father and the child, and the child loves the father and the mother. Everyone in the family should be dedicated to each other and give no way for dissensions or disunity to happen. That is why, from the example of the Holy Family, we too should follow what Jesus and His family had done, and implement it in our own.

And lastly, indeed, our families should be holy, just as the Holy Family is holy. We must base our family in love, as well as in prayer and in faith. Our families cannot be separated from God nor can we build a lasting family without the presence of God in each and every member of the family. The reason why many families did not last is because they never pray together, and they do not even sit down together to talk, or eat together, or do activities together as one family.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we rejoice in the festivities of Christmas, let us also heed of the examples of Christ and His family as we celebrate this feast of the Holy Family. Treasure our families and make sure that we keep faith and love at the centre of our families. Pray together as a family, that is important. Keep God at the centre of our family lives, and be assured that our family lives will be transformed such that we will be truly be grateful.

May the Lord our God, Jesus Christ, bless us that our families too can be like His own family in this world, with His mother Mary and Joseph His foster-father. May the Lord bless our families and let His love be within our families, each and every day of our lives. God be with us all. Amen.