Holy Family, Year B
Sir 3:2-7, 12-14; Col 3:12-21; Lk 2:22-40
The Church instituted the Feast of the Holy Family in 1921 to show us the importance of family life and the example of the Holy Family when family ties have been weakened. God created man and woman, forming a family with a father, mother and children so that they can love and take care of one another physically, emotionally, morally and spiritually.
It was love that Jesus decided to take our human nature and to be born among us. It was love that urged Mary to accept the motherly role of the Savior. It was love that impelled Joseph to take the child and his mother and left that night for Egypt (Mt 2:14). It was love that compelled Joseph to bring the holy family back to Nazareth. There Joseph took care of the holy family by making a living as a carpenter.
The human family is considered the keystone of society. Either small or big, the family is still necessary for society. It is in the secure environment and warm atmosphere of the family life that human, moral and religious values are handed down to children and children learn good deeds from parents. Thus, investment in children must begin at conception. Conception must be the result of love between two committed persons: a husband and wife in marriage, not by chance between uncommitted persons of the opposite sexes.
Living and growing up without a family, people might lose emotional balance. When the family breaks down, sexual and family identities will diminish. Living in societies of economic and industrial or postindustrial development, family values are diminished. In such societies, civil laws are designed to advocate individual rights such as to allow divorce, abortion rather than to protect family cohesion.
In addition, immoral movie pictures, bad magazines and drug addictions also endanger individual and family lives. A survey by Mutual Life in Massachusetts asked adults where they had received basic values, about seventy or eighty percent said they had come from their families. When the same group was asked with the same question where their children had received basic values, two thirds of them answered their children had gotten their values from mass media: movies, television and music . Due to economic situations and complexities of social life, both parents have to work, giving less time to their children.
If the family is considered the keystone of society, then it is also considered the keystone of the Church. To speak from a religious point of view, the family is the primary unit of the Church. The Church sanctifies family life through the sacrament of matrimony. The Church considers matrimony as holy because family life is expected to be holy if it is a reflection of the holy family of Nazareth. The holy family sets an example for every family to follow as the good counsels from the book Sirach points out: He who obeys God pleases his mother (Sr 3:6). That means the mother would be happy when his son and daughter obey God who is the source of all wisdom.
Presenting before us the Holy Family for the ideal of family, the Church is also aware of the shortcomings that might disrupt any home life. That is why in his letter to the Colossians, Saint Paul advises them how to live the Christian spirit. Paul tells them: clothe yourselves with heartfelt mercy, with kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another, forgive whatever grievances you have against one another (Col 3:12-13).
In the family, members are called to be responsible for one another. Members with sickness and disease are to be taken care of physically, mentally and spiritually. Deceased members of the family must be in the family’s memory and prayers. The faithful need to bring God to their family life to allow God to control the family and travel with the family. To go to church together as a family and to pray together as a family are important and necessary elements to unite family members together.
Not only to pray together by reciting prayers written in a prayer book, but also to pray for one another by personal prayers offered to God as some bible figures did. For instance, the newly wed Tobiah and Sarah prayed for each other in the wedding night: Lord, you know that I take this wife of mine not because of lust, but for a noble purpose. Call down your mercy on me and on her, and allow us to live together to a happy old age (Tb 8:7).
Raguel prayed for his son-in-law Tobiah as follows: Good-bye, my son. Have a safe journey. May the Lord of heaven grant prosperity to you and to your wife Sarah (Tb 10:11). Then he prayed for his daughter Sarah: Go in peace my daughter; let me hear good reports about you as long as I live (Tb 10:12). Then Edna prayed for her son-in-law Tobiah as follows: Before the Lord, I entrust my daughter to your care (Tb 10:13). Then Tobit prayed for his son Tobiah and his daughter-in-law as follows: Serve God faithfully and do what is right before him; you must tell your children to do what is upright and to give alms, to be mindful of God and at all times to bless his name sincerely and with all their strength (Tb 14:8). When husband and wife pray for each other using their own words, it is better if they pray aloud so that the other person can hear. If they pray in silence, one person does not hear what the other is praying for him or for her.
However, if they pray aloud, one person can hear what the other is praying for him or her. That would touch him or her. Being touched by one another’s prayer, they will become closer in mind and heart. The holy family we celebrate today must be the model for each Christian family. Each member of the family can imitate something from Jesus, Mary and Joseph. And so, we pray for the success and happiness of the family life.
A prayer for family life of the Marriage Family Enrichment Program:
Oh Holy Family, in days of old, St. Joseph
brought Mary and Jesus fleeing to Egypt.
Holy Family shared front arduous endeavor in life.
Help us know how to:
- Sympathize and live according to the word of God in the Bible.
- Learn to listen and respect each other, in good times as well as in sad.
- Be patient and reconcile when character and manners are different.
- Show piety, thankfulness and faithfulness from family to society.
- Nurture and educate children with good examples.
- Jesus, Mary and Joseph!
- Our life is filled with storms of life, bestow on us with courage and perseverance.
- Our member, old and young are filled with conflicts, bless us with generosity and forgiveness so that we may accept each other joyfully.
- The Church of God needs many ardent and fervent faithful.
- Help us serve in faith and love, so that we may together build God's kingdom forever. Amen
John Tran Binh Trong
Mutual Life survey in Massachusetts, Nov. 1991