26 December 2021 – The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary & Joseph (Year C)

by Fr Joachim Robert

1 Samuel 1:20-22,24-28
Psalm 83:2-3,5-6,9-10
1 John 3:1-2,21-24
Luke 2:41-52

Theme:  Be Sensitive to the Will of God

Merry Christmas, dear friends.

As we celebrate Christmas today, we are reminded in this Christmas season of the importance of family, of the importance of family relationship, of the importance of people in our lives. Because family, dear friends, is a gift given to us by God because God did not give us anybody to be in a relationship but he has given our parents, our children and the people around us to be in a relationship. And that is a concrete place where you come to experience family life and relationship.

I see many children around, and with the children that are around, I am sure parents know the difficulties of bringing up children. Whenever they are young and gradually whenever they grow in age, it becomes even a little more difficult, possibly the same way of how Jesus was difficult to Mary and Joseph as well. It does not say much in the text but we know what it means bringing up children.

But what we can understand and what we can acknowledge, dear friends, in these two readings of today, from the First reading from the Book of Samuel we are given the story of Hannah and Elkanah who brings Samuel towards the temple to be consecrated every year. And in the Gospel too, we are given this story of Jesus, Mary and Joseph going up towards the temple in Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover, in the same way, many of you have come together as family for any celebration of the Eucharist. And here it reminds us, dear friends, that a family is a community of faith which leads us to understand the mystery of God.

Just like the whole family, in the First Reading of Elkanah, Hannah and Samuel who were heading towards the temple to find God, you and I, dear friends, come together as a family to find God’s meaning and God’s purposes in our lives. And as we reflect on The Holy Family, we are reminded that the family is a school of prayer. It is where the formation of one’s faith comes about. Gradually as you move into family life, you know and understand what it means bringing up children, you know what it means being in a family.

And one of the images that comes to mind is whenever you bless a child at baptism. At the entrance of the church whenever a child is baptised, the priest signs the sign of the cross on the forehead of the child, together with the parents and also the god parents, in a way of blessing the child into faith.

And I want to ask you, dear friends, how many of you bless your children?
How many of you pray for your children?
How many of you put God at the center of their lives?

And today, the Feast of The Holy Family reminds us that we need to allow God’s presence to permeate in their lives. I remember when I was growing up, very often my grandmother, my father and my mom usually makes the signs of the cross at the beginning of the day in order to bless us and to give God’s protections upon us. And I’m sure some families continue this tradition right till today. But if you are not or you do not follow the tradition, maybe it is time to start.

Because as you bless your children, dear friends, you are invoking God’s protection on your child, God’s protection upon them so that they are able to be protected by God’s grace and mercy, in the same way of how you pray before meals. Each time whenever we pray before meals we invoke God’s presence among us to come and dwell among us and to be present while we eat, of the many blessings that God has given to us as a family. And that too, dear friends, reminds us of what family does in order to form us into this experience of faith.

And there are so many different ways, dear friends, that you can come together as a family that prays because a family that prays together stays together.

And that’s the first thing that we need to remember: that a family is a pilgrimage on earth and it is a formation of faith that happens within the context of family. And for that, we need to pray by listening to the word of God, by listening to one another and by praising God, the same what we are doing today.

And another thing is this aspect of being in that community and growing towards this virtue of God in their lives and growing in relationship. Because in the family, dear friends, it is important to acknowledge that they are blessings that God has placed in your life; in the same way of how you see Mary and Joseph, whenever Jesus did not listen to them, as what he should, they were worried, they were anxious of him. And sometimes, dear friends, whenever our parents tells us things that we did not find interesting or does not appeal to us, we also must understand that possibly they too are struggling in their own way in bringing the message across to us. Because maybe Mary and Joseph did not understand the greater plan that God has for them, but as a parent, they did what they did with the best of their ability and to the best of their knowledge.

And we need to remember, dear friends, that as we enter into a life of community and relationship, we need to seek forgiveness, we need to seek love, we need to seek reconciliation and we need to allow that relationship to grow and mature in faith. And I am sure that Mary and Joseph, as they entered into that whole aspect of worrying for their family or worrying for Jesus, it stamped out of love.

And what is more interesting as well as we look at the Gospel Reading today, that after going to the temple, they went back together with Jesus. And that is where, dear friends, family or household becomes the school of prayer and the school of discipleship. And we need to understand that those spiritual experiences that what you experience here today or in any pilgrimages does not end at the final destination which is the church, or the destination that you are in. But the fruit of those experiences are expressed in where you are in your families. And that is where we need to grow in our obedience to God and our obedience to one another and that is where we learn forgiveness.

So today, as we look at this aspect of prayer, prayer in our families, the importance of prayer in our families but also the obedience to God and obedience to our parents, because these two aspects dear friends, builds us as a family and builds us as a community. 

And today as we look at this nativity scene, even though our families may be imperfect, our families may be broken, our families may be distant from one another, we need to remember that it is in those broken moments, dear friends, that Christ chooses to be reborn in our lives. Because he came to heal the broken world and we are part of that broken world.

But God does not allow the brokenness in our lives to stay where it is. He wants to bring restoration, he wants to bring healing. And that is why whenever we look at The Holy Family, we are reminded of what we need to do, what we need to do as individuals:-
of praying for one another,
of bringing healing towards one another
and also bringing forgiveness towards one another;

because even though we are distant or maybe we fall short from the values of The Holy Family, we are on that journey, on that pilgrimage towards becoming a Holy Family. 

And I pray, dear friends, that each one of us here today may continue to draw closer and closer towards what God wants of us. 

And we pray that The Holy Family will continue to pray together with us and draw us closer to be like The Holy Family.

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