YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY OF JESUS, MARY AND JOSEPH
HOMILY THEME: LIFE IN A FAMILY
BY: Fr. Cyril Unachukwu CCE
HOMILY: The Family is the cradle of human existence and the ordinary setting for the beginning of every human life. Family is one of God’s gifts to humans! To be devoid of family is to lack one of the most basic and essential needs of human life. In coming to us in human form, God prepared for His only begotten Son Jesus Christ, the humble family of Nazareth, of Mary and Joseph. By the power of the Holy Spirit at work in the life of the Virgin Mary, God made this family the most holy and fertile abode for the flourishing of the Son of Man. May our respective families be fertile spheres for the flourishing of the will and grace of God; Amen.
Life in a family is God’s wish for every human person. Sometimes, As a result of human carelessness, this wish of God is not met for all. Some other times, as the product of our wrong choices and misplaced priorities, this blessed wish of God begin to look like a burden to the extent that some would even wish to be totally dissociated from their families. However, to the greater glory of God and to the benefits of all men and women of goodwill, the gift of the family is one reality that is appreciated as a source of blessing by a far greater percentage of the human race. Whichever way one may wish to see it, whether as a realty appreciated or not, there is no family without challenges. Being also a humanly lived experience and the natural sphere of human growth, the human family, collectively and respectively, share the taste of human weakness, of challenges and limitations. These weaknesses and limitations manifest themselves in various ways. For Abraham and for Sarah in the First Reading of today (Gen 15:1-6; 21:1-3), the challenge was in the form of childlessness and the tension of reconciling God’s promises to them with the reality of not having a child at a very old age. One thing about God is His capacity to transform our challenges, weaknesses, limitations, difficulties and tensions into raw materials for the manifestation of His omnipotence; especially when we entrust ourselves to Him in faith. This was the case with our father in faith Abraham and his wife Sarah. In response to their trust in God and to their fidelity to God’s promises, “the Lord dealt kindly with Sarah as He had said, and did what He had promised. So Sarah conceived and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the time God had promised.” Faith in God empowers us to work always according to God’s time and never ours. And truly, God’s time is always the best.
The Holy Family, of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, was never devoid of these challenges. It was truly a human family. The essential difference between it and other human families was the concrete and personal presence of the fullness of grace in the person of Christ, the manifestation of this fullness of grace in the life of Mary and the direction of the life of Joseph by the same fullness of grace. Irrespective of this distinctive nature of this Model of all families, the Holy Family had its share of problems and challenges. For Mary and for Joseph, this challenge was mainly in the form of the tension in raising their Mysterious Son; the challenge of training their God and Creator in human form. The Gospel Reading of today (Luke 2:22-40) summarised in these words the immensity of this tension and of this great challenge for Mary and Joseph; “the Child’s father and mother stood there wondering at the things that were being said about Him.” To triumph over the challenges and tensions of family life requires a great deal of certain virtues. Luckily for us, God in His magnanimity had imbued us with these virtues, each according to his or her disposition and ability. Ours is to allow these graces manifest in us by totally placing our trust in Him. These virtues were superabundantly present in Mary and Joseph; and in Abraham and Sarah. First among these virtues are those of stabile faith in God, of hope in His promises and of love for Him and for our neighbours.
In the Second Reading (Col 3:12-21), Saint Paul carefully outlined also some of these virtues that would help to turn our families into healthy abodes for the flourishing of every human person and into true spheres to encounter God in a most special way. These include the virtues of “sincere compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, mutual respect, tolerance and the ability to forgive as we have been forgiven by God.” Each of the persons of the Holy Family achieved his or her mission in life because they were richly filled with these virtues. Abraham and Sarah also distinguished themselves as a couple because they cooperated with the grace of God to make these virtues take root in them. Our respective families can also exude this fragrance of the presence of God in the Holy Family and in the family of Abraham and Sarah. This is possible only if we open our hearts to the manifestation of the grace of God and if we open the doors of our families to welcome the new born Child, Jesus Christ the Emmanuel.
May the blessings and graces brought by the Baby Jesus transform our families into domains of integral human development and of in-depth spiritual relationship with God our Creator; Amen.
Happy Sunday; Fr Cyril CCE