The Holy Family of Nazareth: The Christian Model
Readings: (1st: Sirac 3, 2-6. 12-14: Ps 128, 1-5; 2nd: Col 3, 12-21: Gos: Lk 22, 22-40)
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans). He is currently working with the Spiritan International Group of Puerto Rico & Dominican Republic. He is the Administrator of Parroquia La Resurrección del Senor, Canovanas and the Chancellor of the Diocesis of Fajardo-Humacao, Puerto Rico. For more details and comments contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
Today is the first Sunday of Christmas. It is a Sunday dedicated to the Holy Family of Nazareth. That is, the family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. It is the model of every true Christian Family. Sociologically speaking, the family is the nucleus of the human society and the place where life and learning begins.
The importance of today’s celebration both in the life of the church and our society cannot be underestimated. First, it is meant to remind us of the specific and important role of the family as a sacred institution. That is, that the sustenance and subsistence of our society depends on the continuous existence of the family.
Second, this celebration reminds us of the right constitution of a family. That is, the right and naturally accepted union of a father, mother and their children. Hence, any union (like same sex) other than this in the name of family, is an aberration. It is also against God, who in the beginning made them male and female. He did not take the rib of Adam to create another man for Adam to cohabit with. Instead, he took Adam’s ribs and created a biologically and functionally different human being, woman (Gen 1; 2).
The first reading of this Sunday explicitly outlines the three different components of a family: father, mother and children. It equally outlines the position of each member in relation to one another: “The Lord honors the father in his children; a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons.” Each is important and unique in their positions.
Importantly, the Sirac emphasized the role of children towards their parents. This role centers on honor and obedience to one’s parents. Paul re-echoes this: “Children, it is your Christian duty to honor your parents…Respect your father and your mother is the first commandment that has a promise attached to it; so that it may go well with you” (Ep 6, 1-4).
In today’s second reading, Paul reminds us of the Christian virtues that are very important to sustain our families. Each member of the family must strive to acquire them. These include: compassion, kindness, patience, and forgiveness towards every member of our family. Most importantly, Paul says: “Put on love and let the peace of Christ control your hearts.”
Most families are not living in peace today. Instead of wearing the garment of love, they wear that of hatred. Paul sums up by reminding us of the role of each member of a family: “Fathers, love your wives and avoid bitterness towards them…Wives, respect your husbands…Children, obey your parents.” These roles are crystal clear.
In addition to the virtues that Paul enumerated above, today’s gospel presents us with very important characteristics of a family. That is prayer and unity of purpose. Together, Mary and Joseph took their son Jesus to the temple to be consecrated. So, they acted and prayed together for the good of their family.
When Herod threatened their baby, they decided together in prayers to flee to Egypt. This is a very important virtue to emulate from them today as we celebrate. This is especially in our world where individualism has done a great harm to our family relations. Prayer and unity sustain and help our families. This is especially, during difficult moments in life. This is true of the saying that “united we stand, divide we fall.” Therefore, let us pray, Jesus, Mary and Joseph: make our hearts like unto yours. Merry Christmas!
Peace be with You!