Holy Family Sunday – 28.12.2008
Genesis 15:1-6;17:3b-5,15-16;21:1-7; Hebrews 11:8,11-12,17-19; Luke 2:22-40
Two thirds of North American families do not eat their meals together. Of the third of those who do, 50% are watching TV during the meal. The average child over 8 watches three and a half hours of TV daily, largely because the tired parents use the TV as a baby sitter at the end of a long day. (Economic Policy Institute).
The Feast of the Holy Family is not as old as one might think. Its origins are found only in the seventeenth century. Before then there was little need to offer the Holy Family as a model, for family life was largely in a healthy condition. But then came the Industrial Age and the birth of cities. Serious problems appeared on the family horizon. Strategist that she is, the Church looked about for a counterforce. Cleverly she hit upon devotion to the Holy Family.
And now in XXI century we are living in a time when the family is regularly, permanently destroyed and jeopardized. Since Jean Jacque Rousseau and French Enlightenment, the institution of family is denied, neglected, destroyed and the effects are more and more visible, more and more frightening … Let us simply see our families and ask ourselves one question: "How far away is my family from the Holy Family of Nazareth?"
Today, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. In our natural attitude, we are tempted to look at the Holy Family as an ideal we can not realize in our families. But, Jesus, Mary and Joseph had their share of struggles. The Holy Family conquered their struggles through their faith-life. This must be the primary concern of our families.
The readings for this Sunday present some aspects of a Christian home. The first reading from Sirach says that children need to respect their parents. At first it refers to young children as it notes that mothers and fathers have their authority from God. Then it refers to older children when it says that children should take care of their parents when they age .Little children learn respect for their parents from the respect they see their parents giving each other and the respect their parents have for their grandparents. I have always believed that the way you treat your parents will be the way your children will treat you. If your relations with your parents are motivated by respect and love, and are evident in your kindness to them, your children will have learned this aspect of Christianity and will treat you the same way as your years mount.
The second reading deals with the interrelationships of the family. Paul tells the Colossians and us to deal with each other out of kindness, to be patient with each other, to forgive each other continually, not to let out pride determine what we say and do to each other. If we strive to live this way, than as a family we can pray together not just in Church, but in every aspect of our lives. "Whatever you do, whether in speech or in action, do it in the name of the Lord." Paul goes on to mention the roles of a family in his epoch. At that time the equality of women was not recognized. In the Roman empire women were seen as property that needed to be protected by their fathers ortheir husbands. The respect given to a woman was different from that given to a man. That's why we have the phrase, wives be submissive to your husbands. Closely followed by husbands love your wives. The heart of this reading is that husbands and wives must respect each other. This same line of thought continues with children being told to respect their parents, and parents being told not to nag, to continually find fault, with their children.