Holy Family Sunday - A 2007
FIRST READING - Sirach 3:2-7, 12-14
God sets a father in honor over his children; a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons. Whoever honors his father atones for sins, and preserves himself from them. When he prays, he is heard; he stores up riches who reveres his mother. Whoever honors his father is gladdened by children, and, when he prays, is heard. Whoever reveres his father will live a long life; he who obeys his father brings comfort to his mother. My son, take care of your father when he is old; grieve him not as long as he lives. Even if his mind fail, be considerate of him; revile him not all the days of his life; kindness to a father will not be forgotten, firmly planted against the debt of your sins—a house raised in justice to you.
SECOND READING - Colossians 3:12-21
Brothers and sisters: Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Wives, be subordinate to your husbands, as is proper in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and avoid any bitterness toward them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, so they may not become discouraged.
GOSPEL Cycle A - Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23
When the magi had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.” Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled, Out of Egypt I called my son. When Herod had died, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” He rose, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go back there. And because he had been warned in a dream, he departed for the region of Galilee. He went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, He shall be called a Nazorean.
Years ago Alvin Toffler wrote a runaway best-seller called Future Shock. It dealt with the effect that rapid change was having on institutions like the family. He writes:
The family has been called the “giant shock absorber” of society. It is the place to which the bruised and battered individual returns after doing battle with the world. It is the one stable point in an increasingly flux-filled environment. As the superindustrial revolution unfolds, however, this “shock absorber” will come in for some shocks of its own.
Already in his day, analysts were voicing concern about the family. One said bluntly;
“Except for the first year or two of child-raising, the family is dead.”
Another warned that the family was on the highway to “complete extinction.”
According to the official statistics in North America 50% (means every second marriage) finishes in divorce within 2 years after wedding. Actually in some areas of the USA and Canada there more divorced and remarried marriages (even for the second and third time) than the normal, only once married couples.
These are the alarming and shocking facts of the postindustrial society. Why???? And it seems that the process of the destruction and demolition of the family and family’s life continue. It seems that the family is in jeopardy, it seems that the whole society is in danger because somebody decided to redefine the very sense of the family and all moral and ethical values. Obviously, behind there are the tons of human’s pain and the mountains of suffering, torment, anguish and misery. There are a lot of grief and sorrows, and the huge trauma especially on the side of the children. But there are also a lot of egoism, selfishness and insensitivity, a huge and frightening mentality of the individualism, egotism and the lack of consideration for others. WHY???
What we can learn from Nazareth? What we can learn from the Holy Family?
One Sunday, on the Feast of the Holy Family, a priest gave his homily presenting Jesus, Mary and Joseph as the ideal family. As he was talking he noticed a man muttering to himself. Like all priests, he tried to ignore the man, but the man’s upset grew as the homily went on. Finally, the exasperated priest asked,
“What seems to be the problem, Sir?”
“This is all a waste of time,” the man said. “You talk about Jesus, Mary and Joseph as being the ideal family, but Mary was the sinless one, Joseph the faithful one and Jesus the Son of God. How can any family consider realistically model themselves on the Holy Family?”
That’s a good question, and perhaps one that we all have to ask personally and together in our homes and families.
Let us go back to the today’s readings:
The first reading deals with our relationship to elderly parents. It impresses upon us our responsibility to revere and care for them, especially in their failing years.
“God sets a father in honor over his children; a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons. Whoever honors his father atones for sins, and preserves himself from them. When he prays, he is heard; he stores up riches who reveres his mother. Whoever honors his father is gladdened by children, and, when he prays, is heard. Whoever reveres his father will live a long life; he who obeys his father brings comfort to his mother. My son, take care of your father when he is old;”
The second reading deals with both the relationship between spouses and the relationship between parents and children. It stresses the responsibility of all family members to contribute to family life.
“Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body.”
Finally, the Gospel reminds us that even the Holy Family itself was not immune to stress and misunderstandings.
Let me finish be a prayer I found in an ancient prayer book:
Lord, bless all families
on this feast of the Holy Family.
Help family members open their hearts
to the grace you hold out to them
when they truly need the patience of Job.
Help them open their arms to those
who seek and need their forgiveness
after having injured them.
Help them discover the joy of doing
for others what you have done for us
on so many occasions in our lives. Amen.