Gospel Reflection for the Feast of The Holy Family, Sunday December 27th 2015
Every year parents of Jesus used to go to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up for the feast as usual. When they were on their way home after the feast, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem without his parents knowing it. They assumed he was with the caravan, and it was only after a day’s journey that they went to look for him among their relations and acquaintances. When they failed to find him they went back to Jerusalem looking for him everywhere.
Three days later, they found him in the Temple, sitting among the doctors, listening to them, and asking them questions; and all those who heard him were astounded at his intelligence and his replies. They were overcome when they saw him, and his mother said to him, ‘My child, why have, you done this to us? See how worried your father and I have been, looking for you.’ ‘Why were you looking for me?’ he replied ‘Did you not know that I must be busy with my Father’s affairs?’ But they did not understand what he meant.
He then went down with them and came to Nazareth and lived under their authority. His mother stored up all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom, in stature, and in favour with God and men.
Various aspects of family life are highlighted in the readings today*. Chosen with family life in mind – the old, the young and the child. In praise of family life – both Elkanah and Hannah, and then Mary and Joseph coming close to God in their family life. Today is a day in praise of family, marriage, sexuality, birth and of prayer for families. And in the family we learn about God – more by example than by words.
ORDINARY DAILY FAMILY LIFE
Most families manage well even in times of stress. Daily and ordinary love can overcome a lot else.
While praising the great efforts of parents today and the strong family life which exists among us, we also look at contemporary problems – the stresses on the one-parent family, children unsure of the commitment of the parents; the effects of divorce on the children – and admitting that marriage breakup has a confusing or damaging effect on children; the long life of elderly who are very ill and require a lot of loving but difficult attention, the effects of addiction to drugs and alcohol; prison and crime.
Faith, prayer, Mass and the church can bring us through a lot in bad days.
PRAYER IN THE FAMILY
Prayer can be a valued part of family life. In all the different stresses today of family life if we teach by word and example the value and place of prayer in their lives, we have given a lot; the example of love and care, even in stress times can never be underestimated
Some prayer at night or in the morning, before a meal or leaving the house; Mass, and including prayer at high points of family life are ways of including prayer in family life. Family is the school of faith and the place of God in the ordinary everyday world.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph, help us in our family life.
Donal Neary SJ
Fr Donal Neary SJ is editor of the Sacred Heart Messenger
*FIRST READING: Samuel 1: 20-22, 24-28
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 83: 2-3. 5-6. 9-10
SECOND READING: 1John 3:1-2. 21-24
GOSPEL: Luke 2:2:41-52