Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14 or Genesis 15:1-6; 21:1-3
Colossians 3:12-21 or Hebrews 11:8, 11-12, 17-19
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. What a wonderful time to pause and give thanks for the gift of family. During this time of year it can be difficult for those who have lost a loved one and have a missing place at the table or those who cannot be with their family because of work, illness or distance. For many, though, it is a time of joy as we gather with those we love and share a Christmas cup of tea and a plate of cookies amidst the wrapping paper, twinkling lights and holiday banter echoing at fever pitch level!
It is unlikely that Mary and Joseph and Jesus as the first refugee family enjoyed many of the holiday trappings that our families of 2014 can be so consumed with. The Holy Family and our Holy Families of today do share some things in common though. Over this past Advent season during the weekly Vesper service we came together for prayer, song and reflection around the Advent scripture readings. Each week we had a reflection given by different members of the parish. Our theme centered on: ‘Being Attentive to the Presence of God’. The reflectors included: a married woman, a young family with an elementary-age child and a couple who have eight children.
Here are some of the reflections shared about Family:
"I am one of five children. Growing up with my siblings there was always the usual childhood ups and downs, challenges and disagreements. Today we are five adults who enjoy getting together, having fun and just spending time together. Family is important to us and we are thankful for the gift we are to each other. We realize we are all a gift from God and give thanks for that great love. Awesome things happen because of it!"
"My husband is a cradle Catholic and I went through the RCIA process recently. The support and love I received throughout the RCIA process from this parish community was such a gift. Our family life continues to be enhanced and nurtured because of it. It gives us the support and guidance to help us be the best parents we can be with our son. We are surrounded by the presence of God and feel so blessed because of it."
"We can appreciate the plight of the Holy Family, especially in the ways that Mary and Joseph learned they were going to be the parents of Jesus. Oh Wow! Surprise, Anxiety, Fear! They continue to be a regular part of our lives. But so does Wonder, Awe, Gratefulness! Our daily mantra is: GOD, JUST BRING IT ON! And give us the strength to accept and do your will!"
So did Mary, Joseph and Jesus give thanks to God for the obvious giftedness of each other, for the support of family, friends and faith community, for days of fear and anxiety as well as wonder and awe? I think so. Family includes not only Mom, Dad, siblings, Grandparents, etc., but ALL of us, single, married, widowed, divorced, gay, straight, poor, rich, refugee, other cultures and religions, young and old. FAMILY happens when we are able to recognize the face of God in all of its members. This brings with it many challenges, but even greater blessings. BRING IT ON, GOD! Let us give thanks today for the blessing of FAMILY in our homes as well as in our Church!
HAPPY FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY of JESUS, MARY and JOSEPH and YOUR HOLY FAMILY Too!
Theresa Secord is a Pastoral Associate at St. Agnes Parish, Louisville, Kentucky.