YEAR A: HOMILY FOR THE SOLEMNITY OF THE HOLY FAMILY
HOMILY THEME: THE HOLY FAMILY
BY: Fr. Cyril Unachukwu CCE
HOMILY: The family remains an essential and indispensable part of human existence and growth. To concretely teach us this fact, God, coming to us in human form in the person of His Son Jesus Christ, was born within the context of a family; the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Theirs was never devoid of the challenges and difficulties of daily family life. In the Holy Family of Nazareth, they are revealed to us those virtues without which it becomes very difficult and even impossible to live together as a family. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, be the fount of grace, spirituality, unity, respect, peace and joy for all the families of the world; Amen.
God wills the existence and sustenance of families through that special mutual self-giving between a man and a woman in Matrimony and where it pleases Him also to bless them with children. The health and serenity of every family is often built around the recognition of God’s presence in their midst and through mutual respect. This has to do with recognising the uniqueness and mission of every member of the family and creating space for every member of the family to grow and to feel realised in accordance with God’s plan and to truly feel secured. This is realised by the individual and collective contribution of every member of the family; the father, the mother and the children as the case may be. The First Reading (Ecclesiasticus 3:2-6, 12-14) deeply leads us to understand this connection between the family and God and between members of the family; “the Lord honours the Father in his children and upholds the rights of a mother over her sons and daughters. Whoever respects his father is atoning for his sins, he who honours his mother is like someone amassing a fortune.” Through these wise sayings, God wants us to recognise that a happy and united family is a fount of blessing for both parents and children. It is a dwelling place of God and a new Nazareth for our Lord Jesus Christ. To truly reach this level of communion in our families, Saint Paul instructs us in the Second Reading (Col 3:12-21) that we must “bear with one another; forgive each other as soon as a quarrel begins. The Lord has forgiven you; now you must do the same.” Our ability to forgive others is the most concrete sign of our encounter with the mercy of God. This capacity to forgive makes the family to collectively reach her goal and to be a beacon of hope and the cradle of civility and culture both for the Church and for the society at large. This is possible when we listen to and take to heart the admonition of Saint Paul; “wives, give way to your husbands, as you should in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and treat them with gentleness. Children, be obedient to your parents always, because that is what will please the Lord. Parents, never drive your children to resentment or you will make them feel frustrated.” A family where these words constitute a rule for life is already blessed both in this world and in the world to come.
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These virtues are the virtues that keep families together and empower them to overcome the challenges that will surely confront them on the path of their family growth. This was the secret of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. As a family, they had their own share of difficulties and troubles. The Gospel (Mt 2:13-15, 19-23) made it clear that even at a very tender age Herod wanted to kill the Baby Jesus; Herod wanted to take away the very source of joy and blessing in their midst. No moment could have been more cruel for the Holy Family than this period of uncertainty and insecurity for which Joseph, obeying the instruction from God, “got up and taking the child and his mother with him, left that night for Egypt, where he stayed until Herod was dead”; Joseph together with his spouse and the Baby Jesus became refugees in a foreign land. We see how each respected the other and each playing his or her proper role contributed to the realisation of the plan God had in store for them. In this period of crisis for family life, the Holy Family of Nazareth remains a model for every family; a school where every family must go to learn how to live the family life. The school where we must learn that difficulties and challenges form part of what every family must stand up to! The school where we must learn that these moments of difficulties and challenges are not moments of disintegration and separation, but opportunities to strengthen the bond that exists in our families and join hands together to overcome them! Have you ever thought about it this way; if the human family that has God as a member could face difficulties and challenges, how much more our families made up totally of weak and imperfect human beings? We must always remember that “blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in His ways” and such shall be happy and prosper in fruitfulness and joy.
Holy Family of Nazareth, grant that our families too may be places of communion and prayer, authentic schools of the Gospel and small domestic Churches. Through their life of prayer and love, may they become ever more clearly schools of true human development; Amen. Happy Sunday.
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