Feast of the Holy Family (Fr. Vinner)
MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN CHRIST,
Let us thank the Lord for all the gifts we received on this Year 2017 and Let us welcome the New Year 2018 with the blessings of God and our Parents and elders. This Sunday after Christmas we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family, that is, of the family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. But we also celebrate all the families of the world and above all ours! We rejoice in the gift of living in a family, of having the affection of our parents, of having the certainty of knowing that there is someone who loves us and takes care of us. Also for Jesus it was the same thing: since he chose to be born like all the children in the world, he also had the same needs as all the children. I mean, he needed two parents. The Good Father chose Mary and Joseph to entrust them with their own Son, Jesus. Look, in the same way, the Good Father, who has called us to life, has chosen for each of us the parents we have. He chose them and trusted them. It is good to know that the Good Father has given us parents who love us, and has chosen them precisely for each of us.
THEME: ALLOWING GOD TO BE THE CENTRE OF OUR FAMILY WILL ENSURE A BETTER AND HAPPIER MARRIED LIFE.
Family life is both a challenge and a gift. It is a challenge because it demands a person to grow in maturity in all levels – physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual. However it is also a gift because it offers solace, support and joy to the life of a person. In order to make sure that our own family life is a source of joy and comfort, it is highly important that we bring God into it.
It is said that a good family is like a braid of a girl. It looks like that there are only two locks of hair. But in fact, there are three! Similarly, it looks as if, in a good family life, there are only two persons (husband and wife), involved. But in fact, a third person, namely God, is also involved. Today’s readings point out how God was the centre of two Biblical families. The first two readings tell us how God was the centre of the family of Abraham, while the gospel speaks of how Joseph and Mary had revolved their family life around the person of God.
a). God: the Centre of Abraham’s Family:
Abraham was a person who allowed God to lead and guide his family. In all his decisions, he included God as the primary partner. The Bible very clearly points out how God was a crucial partner in all the decisions of Abraham. He came out of Ur, his village, at the instruction of God (Gen. 12: 1); He kept his life favourable to God as per the directive of God (Gen. 17: 1); He was ready to sacrifice his only son as per the order of God (Gen. 22). The book of Genesis makes it obvious that whatever God asked Abraham to do, he did them with total willingness. Even though the events might not have taken place as dramatically as they are presented in the Bible, the undeniable fact is that Abraham had included God inside the circle of his life.
Here we need to understand that through Abraham tried to keep God as the centre of his family life, still things were not very smooth for him. There were chances and opportunities which pushed him in the opposite direction. For example, Abraham’s wife, Sarah, at times, is presented as a non-co-operating partner who tried to impose her ‘self-will’ on their family. For example, while God had promised Abraham and Sarah a son, Sarah forced him to beget a son through Hagar, the servant (Gen. 16: 1-3). However Abraham tried to strike a balance and was keen on holding on to God. Through these ups and downs, Abraham developed a deeper faith in God which helped him to transcend gradually all his limitations and perplexities. It was this faith
Which later on St. Paul and the author of the book of Hebrews, would laud very much (Rom. 4: 1-25 & Heb. 11: 8-19).
b). God: the Centre of the Family of Nazareth:
Matthew’s presentation of St. Joseph in his infancy narratives makes us understand that St. Joseph was a person who allowed God to be a partner in his decision making. When he was not able to understand the pre-marital conception of Mary, he was ready to be open to God and took a decision, which he believed, that came from God through his dream. Luke, who writes his infancy narratives around the person of Mary, keeps on saying that Mary was completely open to God and allowed Him to act through her. She was always ready to do the will of God.
Like Abraham, the family of Nazareth too had struggled with its moments of difficulties in which it could have been almost impossible to hold on to their faith in God. Non-availability of place for the birth of their son, threat from Herod, being forced to run for life to Egypt would have easily forced them to abandon their faith in God. However, it was through these instances their faith in God was strengthened more.
c). The Place of God in our lives:
The above presentation of the faith of the two Biblical families makes us understand that allowing God into our lives, on the one hand, brings immeasurable benefits into our families. However, on the other hand, it has to be understood that having a strong faith in God does not ensure a problem-free life. However if we persist in our faith, we will begin to understand that all these problems and crises become avenues of getting closer to God, and of growing towards better maturity and greater happiness.
The Bible is markedly different from other religious literatures. In the Bible, the locus of action is not the nation (as in other literature), but the family, and the crucial events take place not in the court and battlefield, but around home. It shows how much our God values the life in family. However the couples, in order to make their family life a fruitful and happy one, need to give importance to God in all their decisions and undertakings.
Marriage day is the beginning of a journey. It is a journey of two people like the one we see in the 24th chapter of the Gospel of Luke (two disciples towards Emmanus) – two people on a voyage of discovery, with certain uncertainties, unsure of the future, all the same walking along in the company of Jesus. However often as we all are, we continue our journey unaware of the accompanying presence of Jesus. Blessed are the couples who recognize this powerful, comforting presence of God in their journey.
Lord Jesus Christ, who, being made subject to Mary and Joseph, did consecrate domestic life by Thy ineffable virtues; grant that we, with the assistance of both, may be taught by the example of Thy holy Family and may attain to its everlasting fellowship. Who lives and reigns, world without end. Amen.
FR. S.Vinner HGN