Dec. 27, The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
Cycle C. Readings:
1) Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14 or 1 Samuel 1:20-22, 24-28
Psalm 128:1-5 or Psalm 84:2-3, 5-6, 9-10
2) Colossians 3:12-21 or Colossians 3:12-17 or 1 John 3:1-2, 21-24
Gospel: Luke 2:41-52
By Sharon Perkins
Catholic News Service
During the past year, Pope Francis’ Wednesday audience talks have emphasized and explored the holiness of the human family, warts and all. Additionally, the recent World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia and the Synod of Bishops on the family in Rome continued to stir debate both inside and outside the Catholic Church.
I suspect that family-related social issues and decisions about pastoral care of families — all kinds of families — will shape our conversations for a significant period of time. And that’s a good thing.
Prior to the World Meeting of Families, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia published a preparatory study booklet entitled “Love Is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive.” Its summary statement declared: “We believe that love is our mission, and that this mission is the only way we can be fully alive and be who we were created to be. We believe that this love should be taught, shared and communicated in and through the family, the domestic church. We believe that the family shares in the mission of the whole church.”
What does a “family fully alive” look like? Today’s Scripture readings give us some clues: respect for parental authority; compassion and kindness toward the aged and feeble; children regarded as blessings and not as burdens; wives and husbands subordinate and loving toward each other; forgiveness, thankfulness, patience and peace; a devout family life of prayer and communal religious celebration; and, sometimes, the experiences of loss, anxiety and confusion as parents learn to let go of their adult children.
The feast of the Holy Family celebrates the most “fully alive” family of all. Still, just as Jesus had to remind Joseph and Mary that his life’s purpose transcended their immediate family concerns, we are reminded that our families’ lives — complex, varied and abundant as they are — do not simply exist for our own benefits and purposes.
Each Christian family has a vocation, shared in and through the whole church. So we must hold loosely “our” possessions, “our” interests, “our” comforts and “our” aspirations for our children, knowing that our families are part of a much bigger family that has at its core the mission of a love poured out for the whole world. Jesus, Mary and Joseph did this willingly; we are called to follow in their footsteps.
How would you describe your family as being “fully alive”? In what ways is the mission of the Christ and his church lived out through your own family?