HOMILY FOR HOLY FAMILY SUNDAY, YEAR A
Sirach 3:3-7, 14-17a /Psalm 128/Colossians 3:12-21/ Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23
Agorsor Aaron Agbeshie
Theme: In God’s will we find true peace
The Sunday during the Octave of Christmas is celebrated as the Feast of the Holy Family. After the celebration of the Birth of Our Savior, an event marked by miracles and heavenly interventions, we are reminded that Jesus, the Son of God, truly shared our human condition. Although wondrously unique because of the presence of God Himself in its midst, the Holy Family was like all human families. Its circumstances were similar to those of so many other human families. It knew poverty, uncertainty, even exile. And when the danger was over, it remained a Family, living modestly, in poverty, through the labor of its hands. Yes, the Son of God truly shared the human condition in its fullness except in sin, although He would one day sacrifice Himself to free us from sin.
Yesterday, the Scripture readings called our attention to the child at the crib. Today’s readings point to the entire nativity scene and bid us consider the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. These readings offer us the lessons on Christian family life.
In today’s first ‘reading Sirach gives a beautiful comment on the fourth commandment: “Honor your father and your mother, that you may have a long life in the land which the Lord, your God, is giving you” (Exodus 20:12). Sirach’s advice is based on Israel’s wise reflection on God’s revelation; a revelation based on how the new generation of the Israelites is to walk with God.
Again, the First reading should raise a question in the minds of every parent: Have I given my children everything- good education, fine clothes but failed to impart to them by word and especially by example the wisdom of God? As young people, have we obeyed our parents, brought joy to them or pain.
Today’s second reading, gives us additional admonition on Christian family life. Indeed, Paul’s advice is not directed to an ordinary family. Rather, it is directed to a family that professes belief in Christ as the Lord of their lives; a family which is part of the Body of Christ, the Church (Colossians 3:5). No wonder the family is called the “Domestic Church”. Paul’s insistence on forbearance and forgiveness of one another (Colossians 3:13) is especially important for a family where close daily contact with one another is bound to create friction. It is not a kind of advice experience would teach. Paul expressly says “Forgive as the Lord has forgiven you” (Colossians 3:13). Receiving God’s forgiveness is conditioned by our own forgiveness of others. “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” (Matthew 6:12). If we do not forgive others, we put an impenetrable barrier and prevent God’s forgiveness from reaching our heart.
Again, peace in our family is as important as world peace. True peace is found when we do the will of God. This is because in his will we find true peace.
Furthermore, Paul urges us to dedicate ourselves to thankfulness. We need to be thankful to God for all his goodness to us. Our appreciation of what God has done for us must translate into our appreciation of one another in our families. A family that has an ungrateful person in it knows the disruptive force of ingratitude. Ingratitude it is said is a vice.
In the Gospel reading, Joseph is presented to us as a model of true fatherhood. Joseph had to undergo suffering for the sake of Jesus. He always acts on the will of God without complaining.
Family life teaches us at a very early age how dependent we are on one another. To belong to a family is to dispel the myth of independence. This illusion often afflicts us as we enter adulthood; we can be deceived into thinking that we don't need anyone and that all that matters is that we do what we want. Sometimes this illusion afflicts us even later in life and we run away from our responsibilities.
With this Feast of the Holy Family, the Church does more than just exhort us with the words of Saint Paul. The Holy Family of Nazareth is proposed to us as a model for all Christian families. If the Son of God chose to accomplish His plan of salvation by experiencing family life, the Holy Family of Nazareth has a special significance for us. Even Jesus according to his genealogy in Matthew 1:1-16, did not have a perfect family. There were prostitutes (Rahab) in his family, murderers (Manasseh), adulterers (King David). Any family that deviates from the will of God will surely have a bad name.
It serves as a model of what every family should be: a community of love and sharing. Jesus, Mary and Joseph were united in their obedience to the will of the Father: Mary said "yes" to God, Joseph too obeyed and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him. Jesus too was busy with the Father's affairs. Obedience, authority, leadership, these concepts are given a new meaning by the example of the Holy Family. All without exception, wives, husbands, and children are called to mutual service. This is the essence of Christian leadership.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph never took one another for granted. How could they when their coming together was so wondrous. Our own family situations would be much improved if we took this one lesson to heart: not to take anyone for granted, to cherish one another as God's gift. This is what we learn from the Holy Family of Nazareth.
It is important for us to know what we mean by family consecration. The essence of consecration is conformity. It consists in imitation. By consecrating ourselves to the Holy Family we pledge with the help of God's grace to live in union as they did, intent above all in doing God's Holy Will.
In sum, on the occasion of Holy Family Sunday, parents must rediscover their roles as first evangelizers to their children. This is because the family is the first source of socialization for the child. Whatever the child would become later in life depends on the family. Let us all work towards making our families places of peace and tranquility. Our family history may not be the best and yet the example of Jesus having come from such a background should encourage us to know that no matter what something good can still come from our seemingly hopeless families.