Gospel Luke 2:22-40
Dear friends, today is the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. The Church recommends this Feast to be celebrated on the Sunday following the celebrations of the birth of Jesus at Christmas. This Feast seeks to encourage and show us how families can really work if we follow God’s plan. Secondly, this celebration reminds us of the right constitution of a family. That is, the right and naturally accepted union of a father, mother and their children. Hence, any union (like same sex) other than this in the name of family is an aberration. It is also against God, who in the beginning made them male and female. He did not take the rib of Adam to create another man for Adam to live with. Instead, He took Adam’s ribs and created a different being – woman.
Our First Reading from the Book of Sirach or Ecclesiasticus deals with the relationship between parents and children and the respect and care to be expected. The Reading reminds children of their duty to honour their parents, even when it becomes difficult. Furthermore, the Reading mentions the reward which God promises to those who honour their father and mother:
- whoever respects his father atones for his sins
- the mother amasses a fortune
- the father will be happy with children of his own
- will be heard anytime he prays and will live long
In a nutshell, God blesses children if they obey, revere and show compassion to their parents. But the question is, do children really honour and respect their parents? Yes and no. Yes, some children are appreciative to their parents for bringing them up and making them what they are today. No, because some do not care about the welfare of their parents. Some are even perpetual dependents. They are a failure in life. They can’t take care of their own children. On the other hand, some parents too are irresponsible. They do not take good care of their children and that explains why some children do not respect their parents. Notwithstanding, the Reading tells us to honour and respect both our responsible and irresponsible parents in their old age.
In the Second Reading, St Paul reminds us of the Christian virtues that are very important to sustain our families. Each member of the family must strive to acquire them. These include – compassion, kindness, patience and forgiveness towards every member of our family. Most importantly, Paul says, ‘Put on love and let the peace of Christ control your hearts.’ Most families are not living in peace today. Instead of wearing a garment of love, they wear that of hatred. Paul sums up by reminding us of the role of each member of a family. ‘Fathers, love your wives and avoid bitterness towards them… wives, respect your husbands… children, obey your parents.’ These roles are very clear.
In addition to the virtues that Paul enumerated above, today’s Gospel presents us with very important characteristics of a family. That is, prayer and unity of purpose. Together, Mary and Joseph took their son Jesus to the temple to be consecrated. So, they acted and prayed together for the good of their family. When Herod threatened their baby, they decided together in prayer to flee to Egypt.
This is a very important virtue to emulate from them today as we celebrate them. Prayer and unity sustain and help our families. “United we stand, divided we fall.”