The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph: December 31, 2017

Deacon John1

Today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family. Much about what we know of the Holy Family is retold in the Joyful mysteries of the Rosary – and have been proclaimed in the Gospel readings in the days leading up to Jesus’ birthday and in the infant narratives of Matthew and Luke. We have been reminded of Mary’s “Yes” to becoming the Mother of Jesus; of Joseph’s courageousness to take Mary into his home prior to the birth of Jesus; of Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth and how her baby leapt in her womb when Mary came into their presence. Only last Monday we celebrated Jesus’ birth. God become man. Fully human and fully divine, a mystery of faith that we cannot fully comprehend. Joseph protected his son by fleeing into Egypt to avoid Herod’s murderous jealousy. Today we hear the story of the fourth joyful mystery of the rosary, that of Joseph and Mary bringing the baby Jesus to the Temple (and Simeon recognizing Jesus as the promised Messiah). The fifth mystery reminds us of Mary and Joseph finding Jesus teaching in the Temple as a very young man. And Luke ends today’s Gospel with “The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.” Next we know, Jesus begins his public life.

The Holy Family models for us in these stories what we have come to view as family ideals, i.e., parents’ unconditional love for their children and their children’s obedience and fidelity to the family.

We are all members of a family. Families have many different looks in the 21st Century. Families differ from culture to culture. Young parents struggle to begin their lives together. Some folks find themselves raising their children as single parents. Others find themselves raising their children’s children. Still others find themselves raising their children and caring for their aging parents. Others find themselves alone – fending for themselves. Few families enjoy what appears to be the bliss of some television families like the Walton’s or the Cosby’s, or the imagined bliss of the HOLY FAMILY or the extremes that are highlighted in celebrated reality shows. The real “reality” families are probably more like what you and I experience. There are ups and downs – bumps and warts. There are wonderful successes and dismal failures. There are families filled with joy and happiness and there are families dealing with unspeakable pain and frustration. But the common theme is FAMILY.

Family is that place where I know I’m loved. If I make a mistake I know that I’ll still be loved. Family is that place where I can turn for help. Family is my safety net.

Coming together to celebrate Eucharist each week we, as a faith community, open ourselves to the actual graces that Jesus showers on his family. These graces enable us to deal with the twists and turns we encounter as we journey through life. We need these graces so that we have the wisdom as parents and children to love one another and to help one another to be holy.

As we approach the table of the Lord this today, may we resolve to use the graces we receive to strengthen the relationships in our families, at work and here in our faith community.

May you and your family enjoy a blessed, healthy and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!