Feast of the Holy Family by Father Gerard Jonas

31 December 2017

Sir 3,2-6,12-14; Col12-21; Luke 2,22-40

Today, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family.

The birth of Jesus marks the formation of the Holy Family of Nazareth.

Today’s liturgical celebration in the Catholic Church is in honor of Jesus of Nazareth, his mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and his foster father, Saint Joseph, as a family. The primary purpose of this feast is to present the Holy Family as a model for Christian families.

The Lord Jesus Christ belongs to two families or communities distinct in space and time, and in both He is the Son: the child who completes the community in eternity, the Holy Trinity, and the child who completes the community in time, the Holy Family of Nazareth.

In both communities, as Son, Jesus exhibits the same very distinct characteristic. With the Holy Spirit and God the Father, Jesus is the obedient Son, (obedient unto death, as St Paul writes to the Philippians). With Mary and Joseph, Jesus is the obedient Son who grew in stature and grace in their care, sanctifying the human family.

Owing to his obedience to God the Father, Jesus incarnated and enhanced the obedience to God’s will in Mary so that she became his mother. Likewise, his incarnation occasioned Joseph’s full trust in God’s plans. The initial obedience of Jesus allowed others to fulfill their roles according to God’s will and plans. In the Gospel today, Simeon and Anna were able to proclaim the glory of God who fulfills his word. Taking the Infant Jesus into his arms praising God, Simeon showed that faith is a meeting and an embrace. Anna on the other hand, shows that faith is a call to action- to proclaim to all those awaiting that the Lord has come.

Jesus is at the center both of the Holy Trinity and the Holy Family as a Son. With the birth of Jesus, faith hope and love have enlivened the whole community of believers.

Love is the active bond that holds together both the community in time and the community in eternity. It is love that sent Jesus to incarnate into our midst to be our Redeemer. It is to love that Jesus, in turn, sends us to form communities, the only commandment that he has left us with.

The family is the sacred space and time where we all continue to grow at whatever stage in life we are in. Children learn from their parents, as parents learn from their children. Members of the community are nourished by their superiors as superiors are also surely enlivened by the members of the community.

Joseph must have greatly fulfilled his role as a father that the Lord Jesus introduced God as father. Mary must have been truly nurturing as mother that at the cross Jesus entrusted the beloved disciple to her care, virtually entrusting us all believers to her motherly care.

All of us are born as children in our own families. When my nephews and nieces were younger, it amused me to observe their faces when I told them that like them, their parents are also children; that their parents are my siblings and our parents are who now they call grandparents. Yes, some of us may be called to assume parental roles. In time, some become mothers and fathers themselves, but no one can outgrow our being children. It is the only identity we hold on to and will go back to when in time, we shall be called into eternity. Like Jesus, we can only present ourselves as sons and daughters before God our Father.

The challenge today is not to just wait for this to happen but to already feel and live as members of the great family of God. Otherwise, we will never get there.

As we continue to celebrate Christmas, let us be nourished by the thought that we belong to God’s family because Jesus once joined in to be the God-incarnate child in our human family. So once again, at this New Year’s Eve, let us renew our basic identity of being a child – in our family, in our community, in God’s holy family, thru which flowed all the graces and blessings of the past year and shall ever flow in the years to come.

Let us pray that as God blessed the life and love of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph at Nazareth, He may enrich our families and communities with every grace and blessing to be the holy space and time of spiritual and material nourishment and strength for everyone now and for generations to come. And may the Church be enabled to accomplish her mission faithfully and fruitfully in and through the family.