angel of the Lord
Gospel Reflection for the Feast of the Holy Family – December 29th 2013
Full scripture for this Sunday is available on the Catholic Ireland website. Daily Scripture is also available. Our parish Prayers of the Faithful for this Sunday are made available on the Dublin Diocesan website.
After the wise men had left, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother with you, and escape into Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, because Herod intends to search for the child and do away with him’. So Joseph got up and, taking the child and his mother with him left that night for Egypt, wher he stayed until Herod was dead. This was to fulfil what the Lord had spoken through the prophet:
‘I called my son out of Egypt.’
After Herod’s death, the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother with you and go back to the land of Israel, for those who wanted to kill the child are dead’. So Joseph got up and, taking the child and his mother with him, went back to the land of Israel. But when he learnt that Archelaus had succeeded his father Herod as ruler of Judaea he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he left for the region of Galilee. There he settled in a town called Nazareth. In this way the words spoken through the prophets were to be fulfilled:
‘He will be called a Nazarene.’
Matthew 2:13-15. 19-23
We often remember the sacrifices parents made for us. Financial generosity, giving their time, understanding us when we go wrong. The first family story is a tough story, Joseph caring for them in danger on the Egypt journey. This was what it would be like at times.
The holy family was probably an extended family of cousins and maybe step-brothers and step-sisters of Joseph if he had been widowed. Jesus grew up ordinary in many ways. They said that later: …’is this Joseph’s son? We know him’.
We salute the love of parents, fathers and mothers. The crib highlights them – they represent all our parents.
Family life today has its economic difficulties, huge expectations, peer pressures on children, marital breakup and the confusion of so many different types of family.
The role of the church is to support family life – with education, faith- formation, economic support, when we can. As a parish we want to be committed to family life and we support when we can.
Jesus came not only to be with us, but to care. Same with the church – being in the world and being for the world.
Joseph took the child and his mother. He was a caring man, looking after them, making a huge difference to a small number of people – this is the message of love in the gospel and is the central message of the feast today.
Lord, care for our families and may we in our families care for each other.
Donal Neary SJ