Sunday, 27 December 2020 : 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 after Christmas, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family, the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the Holy Family of Nazareth and Bethlehem, consisting of the Lord Himself as the centre focus of the Holy Family, the Lord, Divine Word Incarnate born as the Son of Mary, the Mother of God, and the foster-son of St. Joseph, who became the legal father of the Lord.

As described in the Scriptures, the story of the Holy Family is truly one that is filled with many wonders for its exemplary nature as a family as well as the challenges and trials that the Holy Family had to endure together against the difficult opposition and the troubles that were facing them, through which the Lord’s opponents wanted to stop the works of God at its infancy.

We heard of how the Holy Family travelled from the small town of Nazareth in Galilee to the city of David, Bethlehem in the land of Judea due to the demands of the census that had been ordered by the Roman Emperor Augustus at that time. St. Joseph had to lead the way and take care of the heavily pregnant Mary on the long journey to Bethlehem, and braved the difficult journey in a largely inhospitable condition along the way. When they reached Bethlehem, there was no inn or lodging available for them and Mary’s delivery time was already due.

They had to take refuge in a cramped and dirty stable outside of Bethlehem, amidst animals and their shepherds. That was where the Lord was born, a King born not in a great palace but in a lowly stable. St. Joseph took good care of Mary and her Child during this period of time, and brought them all to the Temple of God to offer Jesus to the Lord as prescribed by the Law as the firstborn son offered to God. That is how we have our Gospel passage account today of how Jesus was met by Simeon and the prophetess Anna.

Through what Simeon and the prophetess Anna told Mary and St. Joseph, certainly they knew that their family was not going to be a regular or ordinary one, just as the Angel of God had revealed earlier to each one of them of their mission in Mary as the Mother of Messiah and the Son of God, and in St. Joseph the Protector and Patron of the Holy Family respectively. The words of Simeon and Anna again emphasised the gravity and importance of the role that Christ would play in the world, and by extension, the Holy Family along with it.

And not even long after Christ was born, He already had to face a lot of trials and even hatred, from the king of Judea and Galilee, Herod the Great who was threatened by the coming of a new King in the midst of his kingdom and thus wanted Jesus eliminated and destroyed. In his desperation and unwillingness to let go of his pride and greed, Herod ordered the whole infant population of Bethlehem below the age of two to be slaughtered. But God rescued Jesus and the Holy Family, and through St. Joseph’s leadership, went into Egypt until king Herod was dead.

The Holy Family was indeed an exemplary family, with St. Joseph as its head and patron, as a father figure to Our Lord and as the protector of both Mary and the Child Jesus especially during those crucial early years. Mary is the matron of the Holy Family, the mother figure as the Mother of Our Lord and also as the wife to St. Joseph, in a loving marriage blessed by God.

And of course the Lord Himself was the Son in the family, brought up by Mary and St. Joseph in Nazareth after they all returned from Egypt. The Lord listened to both of them and learnt from them many things, from St. Joseph He likely learnt the many crafts and tools, the working of the world, while from Mary, His mother He learnt more about the ethics and the other relations of the world.

The members of the Holy Family loved each other and dedicated themselves for one another, going to the Temple of God to pray and to worship, in which occasion when the Lord was twelve, He purposefully stayed behind at the Temple, and both Mary and St. Joseph were shocked to find that He was not among their return companion. They went back all the way to Jerusalem to find Jesus, and found Him in the Temple.

Again, in that occasion, although the Lord told both Mary and St. Joseph that His place was at His Father’s house, but He listened to them and obeyed them, following them back to Nazareth, and as the Scripture said, continued to grow in wisdom and strength in the sight of the world, until the coming of the days of His ministry, in which, Mary, His mother, followed faithfully along, even all the way to the Cross, and was there by the side of her Son when He died.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we progress through the Christmas season, we should see how important the family is to our Christian faith. As the Child Jesus Himself was born into a loving family and grew up with them together and grew in the faith and wisdom, thus, all of us should also model our families along the examples of the Holy Family, building up a faithful family and a strong family bonded in genuine love.

The Holy Family shows us all that it is indeed possible for us all to have a loving family and a family dedicated to God, anchored in faith and prayer, in love and compassionate care for each other. But are we modelling and living our families like that of the Holy Family? Or have we rather neglected our families and our family members, and treat each other with contempt and lacking in love?

Now let us ask ourselves, how have we been celebrating Christmas as a family? Have we been mainly focused on the material aspects, focusing on the glamour, festivities and all the gifts, the monetary and wealth we have gained and received? Or have we instead been focusing more on the time we spend together as a family? We must all realise that no matter what, nothing can replace the love and time spent together as a family, not even money.

It is indeed sad to see families nowadays that do not even exist coherently or in love, which members were divided against each other, having disputes and bitter disagreements, having conflicts and even causing suffering and to the point of murder and killing the members of your own family. And all these are caused by our weakening family foundation and our lack of faith, as our families have increasingly become more and more corrupted by worldly values and become less centred on Christ and the Holy Family.

The family is indeed the foundation of the faith and the Church, as we must all remember that the house and the family is the domestic church that all the young experience through and that is also where our young ones learn the important values of our faith, through our own actions and implementation of what we have believed as Christians. But many of us often do not do and act in the way that we have professed and believed. As a result therefore, we ended up alienating many of those who became skeptical and doubtful due to our actions.

To many, their first impression of our faith and our life comes from the family, and if our families are functional and good, faithful and committed to God and to one another, then naturally this will lead to better relationships between the members of the family with one another as well as with their Christian faith. On the contrary, if our families never sit together and pray together, and never even talk to each other and are locked with each other in struggles and disagreements, then each of the members of our families will quickly drift apart from our faith, as well as from one another.

The devil knows this well, brothers and sisters in Christ, and that is why, in order to bring about our downfall, he is leading a lot of attacks and assault on the institution of our families. We should not allow him to have a free reign over us and our families, and the best way is by making sure that our families are modelled after the Holy Family. This means that our families should first of all be centred on God, to be Christ-centric in all the things we do.

And then, we should look up to the harmony shown in the Holy Family, of the value of care and love, obedience and care among its members. We should strive to make our families to be like the Holy Family too. If we have been selfish and arrogant, stubborn and easily angered, then let us all learn to be more selfless, be more willing to listen to each other, be more gentle and loving so that as each of the members of the family, we may come together and be more united, blessed and strengthened by the love of God in the face of many trials and challenges we may have to face as faithful Christian families in our world today.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all deepen our relationship with one another, especially with our family members, and let us all draw ever closer from the example of the Holy Family so that each and every one of us may live our lives as ever faithful and dedicated father, mother, husband, wife, children, brothers or sisters, as one united family and one community of the faithful in glorifying God by our lives. May God bless us all and our families, our family members wherever they may be, and may He strengthen the bond of unity and love between us, always. Amen.

Sunday, 27 December 2020 : 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.

Sunday, 27 December 2020 : Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Hebrews 11 : 8, 11-12, 17-19

It was by faith, that Abraham, called by God, set out for a country that would be given to him as an inheritance; for he parted without knowing where he was going. By faith, Sarah, herself, received power to become a mother, in spite of her advanced age; since she believed that, He, Who had made the promise, would be faithful. Therefore, from an almost impotent man, were born descendants, as numerous as the stars of heaven, as many as the grains of sand on the seashore.

By faith, Abraham went to offer Isaac, when God tested him. And so, he, who had received the promise of God, offered his only son, although God had told him : Isaac’s descendants will bear your name. Abraham reasoned, that God is capable even of raising the dead, and he received back his son, which has a figurative meaning.

Sunday, 27 December 2020 : Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 104 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9

Give thanks to YHVH, call on His Name, make known His works among the nations. Sing to Him, sing His praise, proclaim all His wondrous deeds.

Glory in His holy Name; let those who seek YHVH rejoice. Look to YHVH and be strong; seek His face always.

Remember His wonderful works, His miracles and His judgments, you descendants of His servant, Abraham, you sons of Jacob, His chosen ones!

He remembers His Covenant forever, His promise to a thousand generations, the Covenant He made with Abraham, the promise He swore to Isaac.

Sunday, 27 December 2020 : Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Genesis 15 : 1-6 and Genesis 21 : 1-3

After this the word of YHVH was spoken to Abram in a vision : “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your Shield; your reward will be very great!”

Abram said, “My Lord YHVH, where are Your promises? I am still childless and all I have will go to Eliezer of Damascus. You have given me no children, so a slave of mine will be my heir.”

Then the word of YHVH was spoken to him again, “Eliezer will not be your heir, but a child born of you (your own flesh and blood) will be your heir.” Then YHVH brought him outside and said to him, “Look up at the sky and count the stars if you can. Your descendants will be like that.

Abram believed YHVH Who, because of this, held him to be an upright man. YHVH was kind to Sarah as He had said, and fulfilled His promise to her. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time YHVH had promised. Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son that Sarah bore him.

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.

Sunday, 29 December 2019 : Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 2 : 13-15, 19-23

After the wise men had left, an Angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph and said, “Get up, take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, for Herod will soon be looking for the Child in order to kill Him.”

Joseph got up, took the Child and His mother, and left that night for Egypt, where He stayed until the death of Herod. In this way, what the Lord had said through the prophet was fulfilled : I called My Son out of Egypt.

After Herod’s death, an Angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph and said, “Get up, take the Child and His mother and go back to the land of Israel, because those who tried to kill the Child are dead.” So Joseph got up, took the Child and His mother and went to the land of Israel.

But when Joseph heard that Archilaus had succeeded his father Herod as king of Judea, he was afraid to go there. Joseph was given further instructions in a dream, and went to the region of Galilee. There he settled in a town called Nazareth. In this way, what was said by the prophets was fulfilled : He shall be called a Nazorean.

Sunday, 29 December 2019 : Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

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, 29 December 2019 : Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

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, 29 December 2019 : Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

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

For the Lord established that children should respect their father; He confirmed the right of the mother over her children. 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.

My child, take care of your father in his old age, do not cause him sorrow as long as he lives. Even if he has lost his mind, have patience; do not be disrespectful to him while you are in full health. For kindness done to one’s father will never be forgotten, it will serve as reparation for your sins.