The Holy Family (Year A)

Commentary on Sirach 3:2-6,12-14; Colossians 3:12-21; Matthew 2:13-15,19-23

After Christmas, we traditionally celebrate the feast of the Holy Family. In some respects, it was very modern in being just a one-child family. We may be inclined to think that, with three such good people, life must have been very easy for them. But, if we are to take the Incarnation seriously, there is no reason to believe that this family – living the lifestyle of a rural village in those times – did not have its share of hardships over the years.

In addition, there is the record of the child being lost for three days in a large and strange city. Imagine the anxiety of the parents in such a situation. Later, the mother will see her son become famous and then the object of great hostility. She will see him abused, arrested, tried, sentenced, scourged, crowned with thorns and finally die like a common criminal with two criminals before jeering crowds. Few mothers have to go through that kind of experience.

Families in trouble
Today, in celebrating the Holy Family, we ask God’s blessings on our own families. It is cliché to say that family life today is in trouble. And it is a self-perpetuating problem.

Sadly, children from dysfunctional families themselves are more likely to set up equally dysfunctional families. Never having experienced good family life, how can they themselves establish a good family? And it seems that very few couples go through any real formation process in becoming husband and wife and parents. Yet the skills needed do not come naturally – or easily.

Family and church
Jesus said that where two or three are gathered in his name, he is there among them. This should be true of every Christian family. The Catholic family is the basic Christian community, through which Christ is present and reveals himself in this world. It has been called the domestic church.

Christian families not only belong to the Church, their lifestyle is a living out of the Christian vision: the vision of unconditional love in a truly sharing community.

Family life is not meant to be lived in isolation. The world around it is not just there for its benefit. It should be united with, supporting and supported by the other families in the parish community and with the wider Church.

The mission of the family is identical to that of the whole Church: to give tangible witness to the vision of Christ for the world.

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