Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus,
Mary and Joseph
Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14
Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23
The Feast of the Holy Family evokes comforting images of Jesus, Mary and Joseph in our minds, and warm feelings in our hearts. I am reminded of the "holy cards" from my youth depicting Jesus as divine yet human child, Mary as nurturing mother and Joseph as faithful husband and father of the family.
The readings today from Sirach offer us guidelines for each role in the family. St. Paul describes the way we should treat each other as family and community members. Matthew narrates the earliest portion of the journey the Holy Family would travel to get to their home in Nazareth. Today’s readings give us the "complete package" for reflections on the Holy Family. When I reflect on this comforting and warm description of the Holy Family in the context of the signs of our times, I find myself a bit more challenged.
It seems that everyone, including our own Church leaders, politicians, and even the head of the Duck Dynasty family are also reflecting on the topic of family. More specifically, these folks are debating and discussing who should be excluded and who should be included in the definition of a real family. However when I look around at the people who join me in community on a Sunday morning to thank and praise God together, I see many families who don’t fit the prescribed roles or descriptions in today’s readings, yet they still seem to be happy, close and "holy" families. Maybe St. Paul’s verse from Colossians is at the heart of what makes a family holy.
"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."
Love, present in the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and present in the many diverse families in our communities, is the bond of perfection. Today I reflect and am thankful for this bond of perfection and for its many beautiful manifestations in our times. May we all work to discover God’s inclusive love, in the many diverse yet "Holy Families" in our own communities!
Happy Feast Day to our Passionist Family at Holy Family Parish in Birmingham!
Terry McDevitt, Ph.D. is a member of our Passionist Family who volunteers at the Passionist Assisted Living Community in Louisville, Kentucky.