Sunday, 30 December 2018 : 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 we celebrate together the feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Our Lord, with His blessed mother Mary and His foster-father St. Joseph. On this day we remember the special relationship that Our Lord and Saviour had with those who were closest to Him in His earthly existence, that is His mother who bore Him for nine months in her womb, and His foster-father who took care of Him as his own Son, despite not being his biological one.

First of all, we must understand that God Who is All-Powerful, Almighty and Infinite does not in fact need a family, for He exists before all ages and time, not created and has always been there, not bound by the natural laws and rules. To have a family is part of the natural law, and to have a parent and a child relationship, and for human beings, every family consists of the nucleus of a father and a mother, and having a child as a result of that blessed union of marriage.

Yet, God made Himself to be part of that Law, which He had given to us, being born into a family of man, the family consisting of Mary and St. Joseph, making Himself an integral part of the loving familial structure that we have just discussed earlier. That is because, He Who is God, the Son of God, did not just symbolically become Man, but taking up for Himself the full nature of Man, and thus conceived and being born in the flesh from His mother’s womb and having a family.

In the Holy Family, we see how God made Himself small and insignificant, in need of love as the Infant born and celebrated this Christmas season. He is the King of kings and Lord and Master of all the universe, and yet He chose to be a little and frail Infant in the manger, needing the protection and love from His mother Mary and from his foster-father St. Joseph. He therefore took up the full nature of man, our own nature, to show us what each and every one of us should become.

He grew up under the loving care and protection of His parents, and as the Scriptures mentioned, He listened to them and obeyed them. Through them He surely has learnt many important life skills and wisdom in life, and therefore, His humanity grew as we all had, and He became for us the model of the perfect Man, the New Adam through Whose obedience and love for God, His Father, became the source of our salvation.

Then with regards to the other members of the Holy Family, Mary shows us the role of a loving mother, who shows love, care and compassion for her Son, Who is of her own flesh and blood, having resided in her own womb for nine months. She was devoted to her Son, and took care of Him from His birth all the way throughout His life, and as we all know from the accounts of the Gospels, even to the final moments before His death on the cross.

Mary showed us the love of a mother, which she showed very generously to all especially her Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. As a mother, she stood by her Son and caring for Him with love, and she also loved her husband, St. Joseph. And this same love, she has also shown to us all as well, by the virtue of us being the brothers and sisters in Christ, and in what the Lord had done, at the moment of His crucifixion, when He entrusted His mother Mary to St. John, His disciple, and vice versa.

Through that action, Mary became for us the motherly figure, our mother and loving woman who is always concerned about our own well-being. That is why, just recently she was recognised in her role as the Mother of the Church, and how she also appeared many times throughout history, in Guadalupe, in Lourdes, in Fatima and in other places, with the message and intention of calling us mankind, her children through Christ, to repent from our sins and to return to God’s grace.

Meanwhile, we must also not forget the important role that St. Joseph played in the Holy Family. As the father figure to the Lord Jesus, despite not being His biological father, but he took Him as his own legal Son, and treated Him as much as if He was his own Son. St. Joseph cared for the Lord Jesus and for Mary, as seen in his crucial presence when the time of census came, and both St. Joseph and Mary had to travel all the way from Nazareth to Bethlehem in Judea.

Mary could not have made the journey on her own, and St. Joseph was therefore important in the role he played, in protecting and caring for the need of Mary and the Baby in her womb along the long and difficult journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. And even when they reached Bethlehem, their problems did not cease, as all the inns and lodgings were full, and St. Joseph must have had a very difficult time in trying to secure a place for his wife Mary to give birth, as the time for her to give birth was imminent.

For his strong sense of righteousness and commitment to God, St. Joseph was therefore known also as the Protector of the Church, as the one who stands by the Church and protecting it, just as he watched over the Holy Family, protecting the young Lord Jesus and Mary, during the times of difficulty and persecution, especially when they had to flee to Egypt to get away from the hands of king Herod, who wanted to kill Jesus.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, I am sure by now we have seen the great love that is present within the Holy Family, as each and every one of the members of the Holy Family truly have that love in them for one another. And this love is not the kind of love that we may be accustomed to, but pure, selfless and committed love that Jesus has for Mary His mother and St. Joseph, His foster-father, the love Mary had for her Son and for her husband, and the protective care and love St. Joseph had for Jesus and Mary.

And it is important that each and every one of us take the Holy Family as our example and inspiration. Each and every one of us are either a child, a son, a daughter, and can also be a father or a mother, or even grandfather, grandmother or a grandchild to our family members. And unless we follow the example of the Holy Family in their love for one another, that is when cracks and troubles can appear within our respective families.

The devil knows this very well, and this is where he is intensifying his efforts in trying to destroy the fabric and the foundation of our families. We must realise that Christian families are the very important basic units of our faith and the important part of God’s Church. In fact, each Christian families are smaller subset of the larger Church, and it is through a functioning and loving Church, that the faith is preserved well among us, God’s faithful people.

That is why the devil is busy at work trying to undermine the institution of Christian families and marriage, by making use of many temptations, pressing on us to succumb to the temptations of worldly pleasures, fornication, adultery and unfaithfulness in the family. He tempts us to be disobedient and to create problems within our families, which eventually can lead to the breakup of its integrity and structure. And once we are vulnerable, the devil and his forces will strike.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today let us all appreciate what we have in our families, and reflect on our actions and deeds thus far as members of our respective families, be it as a father, or as a mother, as a child or grandparent or grandchild. Have we truly made our families to be like the Holy Family of Our Lord Jesus Christ, His mother Mary and His foster-father St. Joseph? If we have not done so, that is probably why there were often problems within our families.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all imitate the examples of the Holy Family in our own families, by placing God first and foremost at the centre of our family lives, and spending time together in prayer, if possible every day. For a family that prays and works together, God will be in their midst and will become the anchor of the family. And that is also when, true love will bloom within the family, and when the true, selfless and unconditional love between the members of the family will flourish, and not the selfishness often found in our world today.

Let us pray, that our Christian families will remain strong and faithful amidst the challenges and difficulties we may encounter in life. May all of us continue to model ourselves on the Holy Family, and imitate the great love present in the Holy Family, in our own families. May God bless us all and our families, and keep us all in His loving grace. Amen.

Sunday, 30 December 2018 : 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 the 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, 30 December 2018 : 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.

Sunday, 30 December 2018 : 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 YHVH of hosts! My soul yearns; pines, for the courts of YHVH. 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 YHVH of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, o God of Jacob! Look upon our shield, o God; look upon the face of Your Anointed!

Sunday, 30 December 2018 : 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 of 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. I think YHVH is now asking for this child. As long as he lives, he belongs to YHVH.”

And they worshipped YHVH there.

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.

Sunday, 31 December 2017 : Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 2 : 22-40

When the day came for the purification according to the law of Moses, they brought the Baby up to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord, as it is written in the law of the Lord : Every firstborn male shall be consecrated to God. And they offered a sacrifice, as ordered in the law of the Lord : a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.

There lived in Jerusalem at this time a very upright and devout man named Simeon; the Holy Spirit was in him. He looked forward to the time when the Lord would comfort Israel, and he had been assured, by the Holy Spirit, that he would not die before seeing the Messiah of the Lord. So he was led into the Temple by the Holy Spirit at the time the parents brought the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the Law.

Simeon took the Child in his arms, and blessed God, saying, “Now, o Lord, You can dismiss Your servant in peace, for You have fulfilled Your word and my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You display for all the people to see. Here is the Light You will reveal to the nations, and the glory of Your people Israel.”

His father and mother wondered at what was said about the Child. Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary, His mother, “Know this : your Son is a Sign, a Sign established for the falling and rising of many in Israel, a Sign of contradiction; and a sword will pierce your own soul, so that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.”

There was also a prophetess named Anna, daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. After leaving her father’s home, she had been seven years with her husband, and since then she had been continually about the Temple, serving God as a widow night and day in fasting and prayer. She was now eighty-four. Coming up at that time, she gave praise to God, and spoke of the Child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.

When the parents had fulfilled all that was required by the law of the Lord, they returned to their town, Nazareth in Galilee. There the Child grew in stature and strength, and was filled with wisdom: the grace of God was upon Him.