Homily for Holy Family Sunday Year B. 27-12-2020 by Fr. Lubem Robert Waya, osj.
First Reading: Genesis 15:1-6, 21:1-3
Psalm: Psalm 127 (128): 1-5
Second Reading: Colossians 3:12-21
Gospel: Luke 2:22-40
As we celebrate Holy Family Sunday, it is a special occasion for us all to recall the roots of each and everyone of us. The family is the nucleus of not just the society but the Church as well, that is why it is called the domestic Church. All of us come from that basic natural union of gametes of a man and a woman. A traditional family according to God’s plan therefore is that family that is actualized in the marital union between a man and a woman as husband and wife open to having children. This sacred institution is today under various forms of attacks, and that is why the Church has designated this Holy Family Sunday for us as individuals, families and groups, to reflect on the nature and the importance of Family life, and reorder our steps along the right path. Here, it means once we get our families right, then the church, the society, and the world at large would also get it right. We have as a first example the believing family of Abram and Sarah who bore Isaac presented to us in our first reading beginning the fulfilment of God’s promise to make Abram into Abraham (father of all nations). As unlikely as it seemed since they had only a child and were well advanced in age, this promise is finally fulfilled through the Holy Family of Nazareth made up of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, through whom the descendants of Abraham would expand even beyond the Jewish race embracing all nations including the gentiles who believe in His Son Jesus. And this Holy Family of Nazareth is presented to us today as a model worthy of emulation.
The episode in our gospel reading which is the presentation of the Child Jesus in the temple by His parents Joseph and Mary in accordance with the Law, marked a significant moment in the fulfilment of God’s promise as revealed in Simeon’s prophecy. Simeon confirmed that in Jesus the salvation prepared for all the nations and the light to enlighten the gentiles and the glory of Israel had come. This exalted mission of Christ had to take root within the ambience of the Holy Family in which He was born and where He grew up. However, though exalted was His mission, He was still going to die by gruesome crucifixion on the cross. Simeon prophesied about the destiny of the Child saying, ‘you see this child: he is destined for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is rejected – and a sword will pierce your own soul too – so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare.’ Here we see a certain paradox for those blessed by the Lord. Mary was blessed to be the mother of the Son of God, at the same time that blessing would turn into a sword that would pierce her heart when her only Son would die on the Cross. It becomes a crown of joy and a cross of sorrow. And this is a pointer to the concrete reality of family life which is a mixture of sweetness and bitterness.
Truly every family is a blessing and a gift from God, but God’s blessings do not exempt us from sufferings and pain. Everyone no matter how successful they are must experience some failure in life. And no matter how joyful you may be, you must undergo some moments of sorrows as well. Life inevitably therefore is a blend of the two; and striving to strike a balance is the wisdom path we need to ply in order to overcome life’s challenges. This is what St. Paul teaches us in the second reading in his letter to the Colossians which comprises all the qualities of a Godly family. It is not a perfect family because it is daily confronted with challenges, however these challenges can be overcome if everyone plays their own part in the family. Such is a functional family. And for everyone to be functional in the family, certain virtues are necessary for all. What are these qualities? St. Paul teaches us that they are sincere compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Ask yourself, if you possess these qualities. If no, then begin to strive to imbibe them.
St. Paul went on to admonish, ‘bear with one another; forgive each other as soon as a quarrel begins.’ Do you bear with offending members of your family? Have you forgiven your spouse that has offended you, your parent, your child, or are you still keeping a grudge with anyone? As long as we are beneficiaries of God’s mercies, we also must forgive others beginning with members of our family. We need the virtue of love to be able to harness all these qualities together because without love, we cannot put into practice any of these. Can you say you have love? Paul concludes by reminding us of our roles in the family beginning with the wives who are the homemakers. He knows quite well that without a good wife, you only have a house and not a home. The husband who truly loves his wife has given her what she needs to be a good wife. So, he says wives are to give way to their husbands and husbands must love their wives while children must be obedient to their parents because it is the will of God. Ask yourself today, as a child, a father, a wife, are you effectively playing your role in the family? Do you have a house or a home?
Only a functional family in which everyone fulfils their roles can together overcome the daily challenges of life. And since no family is perfect, challenges must come from time to time as it was even with the Holy Family. They also had moments of tension and misunderstandings. When Joseph found Mary to be pregnant even before they would come to live together, there was tension but he was patient and later understood what had transpired. Would you react in the same manner? Other such moments were the circumstances surrounding the birth of Jesus in a manger, the flight into Egypt to escape the treachery of King Herod, when Jesus was lost to His parents for three days, and so on. Despite all these confusions and tensions, the Holy Family remained together and were able to surmount all the hurdles. God gives the grace to overcome challenges to every family, however, only the family that is united in love can make use of these graces. May the good Lord bless our families and keep us united in His love and make them functional after the example of the Holy Family of Nazareth, we ask this through Christ Our Lord. Amen