The Holy Family (Fr. Vinner)
My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
On the last Sunday of the calendar year, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. On this feast day we are offering our own families and all their members on the altar to ask God’s blessing on them and to obtain for them the guidance of the Holy Family.
The first reading, taken from the First Book of Samuel, describes how Elkanah and Hannah presented their child Samuel in the Temple, consecrated him to the service of the Lord as a perpetual Nazarite and left him in the Temple under the care of Eli, the priest. In today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 128), the psalmist reminds us that happy homes are the fruit of our faithfulness to the Lord. In the second reading, John reminds us that, as children of God the Father, we are members of God’s own family, and as such we are expected to obey the greatest commandment of God: “Love one another,” so that we may remain united to God in the Holy Spirit.
In today’s Gospel, Luke concludes his detailed story of Christ’s infancy, with the events of Jesus’ visit to the Temple in Jerusalem at the age of twelve to become “a son of the Law” and to take up the obligations of the Law. Jesus lingered behind in the Temple, attending the Sanhedrin classes on religious and theological questions as an eager student of Mosaic Law. Finally, when Mary and Joseph had found him in the Temple after three days of anxious search, Jesus explained to them that he was in his Father’s House. It was as if Jesus had had a blaze of realization about his Divine Sonship. The Gospel then summarizes the next 18 years of Jesus’ life, stating that Jesus grew up at Nazareth like any other young man, obeying his parents, faithfully discharging all his duties to God, to his parents and to the community and “advancing in wisdom and age and favor before God and man.”
We need to learn lessons from the Holy Family: The Church encourages us to look to the Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph for inspiration, example and encouragement. They were a model family in which both parents worked hard, helped each other, understood and accepted each other, and took good care of their Child so that He might grow up not only in human knowledge but also as a Child of God.
We need to make the family a confessional rather than a courtroom. A senior Judge of the Supreme Court congratulated the bride and groom in a marriage with a pertinent piece of advice: “See that you never convert your family into a courtroom; instead let it be a confessional. If the husband and wife start arguing like attorneys in an attempt to justify their behavior, their family becomes a court of law and nobody wins. On the other hand, if the husband and the wife — as in a confessional — are ready to admit their faults and try to correct them, the family becomes a Heavenly one.”
Parents need to examine their conscience: On the Feast of the only perfect Family that ever lived on this earth, all parents might examine themselves to see how well they are fulfilling the grave responsibility which God has placed on them. As they heard during their marriage ceremony: “children are a gift from God to you” for which their parents are accountable before God, as they must, in the end, return these, His children, to Him. Let us pray for the grace of caring for one another in our own families, for each member of the parish family, and for all families of the universal Church. May God bless all our families in the New Year.
May God Bless us.
FR. S.Vinner HGN