YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY OF JESUS, MARY AND JOSEPH
HOMILY THEME: THE T-E-A-M SPIRITED FAMILY
BY: Rev Fr Gerald Muoka
HOMILY: R1 – Gen 15:1-6; 21:1-3
RESP. PS – Ps 105:1-9
R2 – Heb 11:8,11-12,17-19
GOSPEL – Lk 2:22,39-40
Pope Francis, once narrated a story of a family with a mother, father, many children and a grandfather. The grandfather, suffering from Parkinson’s disease, would drop food on the dinning table, drop and break cups and plates, and pour food all over his face when he ate, making mess of the whole place. His son considered it disgusting. Hence, he went out one day and bought a small table, a wooden plate and spoon and set it off to the side of the dinning room so that the grandfather could eat on a different table, make mess and not disturb the rest of the family-an indirect way of segregating against the father because of his pathetic state
One day, this young man who cut off the Dad from the family share of love at the dinning table, came home and saw his son playing with a piece of wood. “What are you doing with that piece of wood?” he asked his son. “I am making a table” the son replied. “Why?” asked the father. “It is for you, Dad. When you get old and become sick like Grandpa, I am going to give you this table, get a wooden plate and spoon for you so that you wouldn’t make mess of my dinning.” Ever since that day, the grandfather was given a prominent seat at the dinning table and all the help he needed by his own son and daughter-in-law.
Beloved in Christ, today is the Feast of Holy Family. The family is the first institution set aside by God inorder to foster mutual love, respect and understanding (Lk 2:24). The family is the primordial institution where the rejected, unloved, sick, aged, dejected, unlovable, depressed, downtrodden should get reassurances of hope, care and love as we see in the introit story. That is why, in his Apostolic Exhortation, ” _Familiaris Consortio”,_ Pope St JohnPaul II, establishing the primacy and importance of the family, says, “As the family goes, so goes the nation, so goes the world in which we live.”
Today, the Church sets apart the Holy Nazareth Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph as an inspiration, exemplary and model family for all Christian families. The Church purposely avoided using the term “Perfect Family” or “Ideal Family.” This is in order for us to avoid the temptation to look at the Holy Family as an unreachable ideal, something that is too good to be true; and so that we may not hide behind alibis and excuses not to pursue growth and holiness for our families.
In the Gospel reading, we see the Holy Nazareth Family like other families, doing ordinary things in extraordinary capacity, “the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple”, in fulfillment of the laws of Moses that every first-born shall be consecrated to Yahweh (Lev 12; Ex 13:1-2,11-16).
However, there is a Corpus of pertinent questions that summarise today’s feast:
● *WHAT ACTUALLY MAKES THIS NAZARETH FAMILY HOLY?*
(i) Is it a family without problems and challenges?
(ii) Is it a family without needs?
(iii) Is it a family with affluence, riches and provisions? *NEVER!*
The truth of the matter is that the Holy Family was not exempt from the harsh realities of life, from troubles and problems that beset our families today. Many families now are complaining about economic difficulties. But the Holy Family was in a far worse condition.
The Nazareth Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph was a “poor peasant and low class family”, with Joseph’s “cut and join carpentry expertise” as the only source of their income. Indeed, the Holy Family faced alot of problems, challenges, crisis, needs and with little or no provisions to settle them as:
(a) The pregnancy crisis (Matt 1:18)
(b) Emergency flight to Egypt (Matt 2:13)
(c) The urgent call to return from Egypt (Matt 2:19)
(d) The prophecy at the presentation that a sword shall pierce Mary’s soul (Lk 2:35)
(e) The distress of searching and finding the child Jesus (Lk 2:48)
(f) The events of the crucifixion of Jesus (otu nwa) (Jn 19:25-26).
*WHAT MAKES THE POOR NAZARETH FAMILY HOLY AND OUTSTANDING*
There are three things that differentiate the Nazareth Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph from other families and place it as a model and Holy family for all ages. They include:
(1) THE PRESENCE OF JESUS
(2) OBEDIENCE TO THE WILL OF GOD
(3) THE VIRTUE OF T-E–A-M SPIRIT
*(1) THE PRESENCE OF JESUS*
The presence of Jesus makes the Nazareth Family Holy. So, it takes the presence of Jesus to make our families holy. We can attract Christ’s presence by making our homes domestic churches. According to the _Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church_ : “The family is, so to speak, the domestic church” ( _Lumen Gentium_ #11). This means that it is in the context of the family that we first learn who Jesus is and to prayerfully seek His will for us. The Nazareth family, from what we see from the Presentation account of today’s Gospel reading and the scripture, consecrated and trained the Child Jesus in the fear of God (Lk 2:28-42), and would always take him to church (Temple worship) for Jewish feasts and festivities. This exposed the Child Jesus into a biblical scholarship even at early childhood.
(2) *OBEDIENCE TO THE WILL OF GOD*
In the second reading, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews goes down the memory lane, to remind us of a great family of faith, who made it into the hall of fame within the faith context, the family of Abraham. They became a faith-model family by obeying the will of God as we see in Abraham’s principles of promptness and availability before God.
The real test of faith is obedience to God’s will. This is very clear in the life of the Holy Family, even when it hurt. Mary’s Fiat and Joseph’s radical faith and Obedience enabled them to accept God’s plans. They acted with promptness and availability in obeying the will of God that perfected the joy we are sharing at Christmas today. The same obedience to the will of God, was manifested by Jesus, even unto death on a cross (Matt 26:39; Phil 2:6-10).
*(3) THE VIRTUE OF T-E–A-M SPIRIT*
T-E-A-M Spirit within this context means : T-TOGETHER E-EVERYONE A-ACHIEVES M-MORE (Together everyone achieves more). The greatest secret of the Nazareth family lies in working as a team, both in good and challenging times. They got each other’s back. They shared their sorrows and joys together. The T-E-A-M spiritedness of the Holy Family was phenomenal in tackling the challenges that preceded the birth of the Savior, down to the various flights to and fro Egypt.
Finally, a little boy, Victor, was known for a particular phrase, “Like my father.” He looked up to his father as an exemplar. One day in school, he was asked by the teacher to describe the virtues in his mentor-father that made him his model. The little Victor said, “like my father, who doesn’t attend church, when I marry, on Sundays I will drive my children to church and go to the beer parlor, only to come back after church and pick them up.”
Beloved, imagine such a disorientation on the psyche of Victor from the Dad’s attitude to the things of God. Truly, it takes T-E-A-M Spirit to make the family a holistic abode of love and growth. Imagine the young boy admiring the Dad’s unchristian gestures, sidetracking the genuine efforts of the pious mother. T-E-A-M SPIRITEDNESS IS AN ANTIDOTE FOR THE BROKENNESS AND SEPERATION WE EXPERIENCE IN MANY FAMILIES TODAY.
MAY THE CELEBRATION OF THE HOLY NAZARETH FAMILY OF JESUS, MARY AND JOSEPH, YIELD ABUNDANT FRUITS OF HOLINESS, MUTUAL RESPECT, LOVE AND HUMILITY IN OUR HOMES.
FR GERALD MUOKA