FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY
1st Reading: 1 Sm 1: 20-22. 24-28 or (Sir 3: 2-6. 12-14)
In those days Hannah conceived, and at the end of her term bore a son whom she called Samuel, since she had asked the LORD for him. The next time her husband Elkanah was going up with the rest of his household to offer the customary sacrifice to the LORD and to fulfill his vows, Hannah did not go, explaining to her husband, “Once the child is weaned, I will take him to appear before the LORD and to remain there forever; I will offer him as a perpetual nazirite.” Once Samuel was weaned, Hannah brought him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and presented him at the temple of the LORD in Shiloh. After the boy’s father had sacrificed the young bull, Hannah, his mother, approached Eli and said: “Pardon, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood near you here, praying to the LORD. I prayed for this child, and the LORD granted my request. Now I, in turn, give him to the LORD; as long as he lives, he shall be dedicated to the LORD.” Hannah left Samuel there.
Ps 84: 2-3. 5-6. 9-10
R. Blessed are they who dwell in your house, O Lord.
1. O blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways! By the labour of your hands you shall eat. You will be happy and prosper.
2. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine in the heart of your house; your children like shoots of the olive, around your table.
3. Indeed thus shall be blessed the man who fears the Lord. May the Lord bless you from Zion all the days of your life!
2nd Reading: 1 Jn 3: 1-2. 21-24 or (Col 3: 12-21)
Beloved: See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. And so we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence in God and receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And his commandment is this: we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded us. Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them, and the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit he gave us.
Gospel: Lk 2: 41-52
Each year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom. After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Thinking that he was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances, but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man.
A CARING FAMILY: Mary and Joseph had to go through the challenges that parents go through while bringing up their children. Empathising with Joseph, how hard it may have been to hear the words , “Do you not know that I have to be in my Father’s house” (Luke 2:48-50). This was after a long search filled with worry. Even at this, Joseph remained calm. He brought up Jesus with a fatherly love. Many times, we tend to mistreat orphans who are within us yet we are Christians. This is not pleasing in God’s eyes. Let us use the Holy Family as our model and treat all children well.
PRAYER: Lord, help me to have pity on the suffering children.
RECREATING A LITTLE HEAVEN HERE: Blessings for those care for their parents are broadly outlined in the book of Sirach. Parents are not just biological originators. They are God’s visible face on the earth. Family, the little cell in the society, the smallest unit of human organization, is a great phenomenon without which proper growth and grooming of the individual cannot be imagined. Joseph and Mary is the model of families not because everything was perfect and set in their house, or because they had a divine member with them. They were not shielded against troubles and wants. In fact, their family seemed to hop from one trouble to another, scaled up one mountain after another. Christian family is the little church, the place where the real initiation and training happens. At a time when this institution is in great danger of disintegration we need to call in the Divine. We must ask Him to get involved in our families. If God couldn’t do without the cushioning atmosphere of the family for His only Son, neither can we. We must redeem our families from individualism, coldness, insensitivity and sin. Let us resolve to do all that we can, any personal sacrifices, any generosity to safeguard our families.
THE PROMISE: God never fails to fulfill his promise, even when it appears impossible in human eyes. He promised Abraham many descendants, and fulfilled it, starting with the birth of Isaac (Gen 25:1-3). In this, Abraham also acquired the name father of faith. Through Abraham, all who worship the one true and living God become Abraham’s descendants by faith. Similarly, the family of Mary and Joseph, was founded on faith in God, leading to the birth of Jesus in this family. In the Holy Family, God fulfilled his promise of salvation to humanity. Simeon, whom the Holy Spirit had revealed that he will not see death before seeing the Messiah, was happy to witness the fulfilment of God’s promise (Lk 2:25-32). God’s Word never goes to waste. For God’s promises to be fulfilled in our families, we too must be people of unwavering faith in God, like Abraham, Joseph and Mary. Only then shall countless blessings from God be poured upon us and into our families.