Feast of the Holy Family Homily

Holy Family, Year C 
1 Samuel 1:20-22, 24-8
1 John 3:1-2, 21-24
Luke 2:41-52
December 30, 2012

Christmas is not over.  Christmas is too important to be a single day.  We celebrate Christmas as a season from Christmas Day till the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord which we will celebrate on January 13th.

During this time, we celebrate some important feasts that are part of the Christmas story for us.  Tuesday we will celebrate the Holy Day of Mary as Mother of God.  Next weekend we will celebrate Epiphany but before that our feast today is the Feast of the Holy Family.

Christmas is about Jesus and Mary and Joseph are part of the Christmas story, Mary for her saying yes to God at the Annunciation and Joseph who listened to the angel to do what was right in God’s eyes.

But Mary and Joseph’s role did not end with the birth of Jesus.  It was just beginning.

Jesus was born as a human being at Christmas and became part of a human family with Mary and Joseph as his parents.  It was their role as parents to teach him the Jewish customs and laws.

We see that in today’s gospel when they take Jesus with them to celebrate the Passover.  We see the humanness in their family when they lose the Son of God.  Have you ever left one of your children behind?  Remember Mary and Joseph knows what is like!      Mary and Joseph taught Jesus what it is to be a child of God.  It means doing God’s Will and recognizing the gifts God has given us.

Look at the story of Hannah.  She had been without children and constantly prayed for God to bless her with children.  When her prayers were finally answered, she gave the child right back to God.

It wasn’t that she had changed her mind.  It wasn’t that her son Samuel was misbehaving and she no longer wanted him.  She did this in thanksgiving, recognizing Samuel as a gift from God.

That’s part of being a family.  Today, one would not expect a new mother to leave her young son at church in service to God.

But we can give our children to God in a spiritual way.  It begins with Baptism, asking that the child be reborn in the spirit.  Then, we teach them to know God.  This means coming to church weekly.  It means praying with them.  It means showing them what faith means to us.

It means teaching them God’s commandments.  Mary and Joseph followed God’s Commandments and we are called to do the same.  In doing so, we remain in God’s love.

Of course, all of this is the ideal.  We hope and pray for the ideal.  But the ideal doesn’t always happen, does it?

When we think of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus as the Holy Family, we might think of their lives as perfect.  How hard could life be when your son is the Son of God?

Well, their life wasn’t perfect.  Jesus was born in a stable and laid in a manger.  I’m pretty sure that’s no one’s definition of perfect.

Then the shepherds and magi come to give homage to Jesus.  Maybe things are getting better.  But wait!  Joseph is instructed in a dream to take Mary and Joseph to Egypt, a few hundred miles from home, because Herod is plotting to kill Jesus.

Hardly perfect right?

Then there is the story we hear today of how they lost Jesus in the Temple.  It’s pretty sure that wasn’t part of their plan!      Ultimately, Mary would be at the foot of the Cross when Jesus was crucified.  Not what Mary would have wanted.

So life was not perfect for the Holy Family.  Jesus learned what it was like to struggle in family.

What struggles does your family face?

Job issues?  Home issues?  Forced to move?  Mary, Joseph, and Jesus know what it is like.  They kept the faith as the source of their strength.  They are an example for us.  We can ask for Mary and Joseph to intercede for us in our family struggles and that Jesus help us in his grace.

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