THE FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY, YEAR A.
29th December 2019.
Sirach 3:2-7,12-14; Colossians 3:12-21; Matthew 2:13-15,19-23.
The central focus of today’s celebration is the family. The Holy Family of Joseph, Mary and Jesus is the ideal family to imitate. The gospel showed how Joseph and Mary worked hard to protect the little child Jesus from harm. They sought a favourable environment in which he will grow in the knowledge and religion of his people. The events that follow his missing in Jerusalem at the age of twelve after the Passover feast shows how he has improved in his knowledge of scriptures and the law. He was found by Mary and Joseph in the company of scripture scholars, arguing and sharing knowledge with them.
The church reminds us of the need to imitate the Holy Family of Joseph, Mary and Jesus. Pope Francis listed three things that make a family holy. They are; praying together, keeping the faith and experiencing joy. When it comes to prayer, we make a lot of excuses why we don’t prayer. The family that prayers together, stays together. The lack of praying is part of what makes family life difficult to handle. Young families often complain about their children as if they a bunch of trouble. But when a family gather round the table of meal to recite the Lord’s Prayer, it unites everyone in mind and in the heart. Prayer helps us to understand the events around us and it gives us the courage to face them with love and devotion.
The Christian faith is to be kept alive through religious activities. Mary and Joseph often went to the temple in the company of their child Jesus. They exposed him to the religious practices of their people in other to preserve his life in holiness. Modern parents are convinced that faith or praying is a personal thing and as such is not necessary for survival. Christian baptism is reduced to mere requirement to access Catholic Education. Catholic Education without the commitment of faith is useless. What will happen if the sacramental program is removed from the school curriculum? There is no follow up in religious activities after the first holy communion. Some parents lack the humility of regular confession and this is transferred to their children. Some of our children have not been to confession since their first holy communion. Our children are forced by parents to receive holy communion without being in a state of grace as required by the laws of the church. This makes holiness very difficult for families.
Genuine joy is lacking in most homes due too much reliance on material things. Procuring the latest games for children or taking them to the children entertainment centres is not what will bring joy to the home. True joy is not bought with money. According to Pope Francis, joy in the family comes through a profound harmony between persons, something which we all feel in our hearts and which makes us experience the beauty of togetherness, of mutual support along life’s journey. In the past bedtime stories are ways of bonding with children. Families must create a sacred moment of togetherness that should not be animated by gargets or TV programs. It must be a moment of real encounter with each other in prayer, sharing of past memories and laughter.
The church advises that families should always live in faith and simplicity, like the Holy Family of Nazareth!
Anthony Ekpunobi, CM.