YEAR C: HOMILY FOR THE SOLEMNITY OF THE HOLY FAMILY
HOMILY THEME: THE HOLY FAMILY; A MODEL TO EVERY CHRISTIAN FAMILY
BY: Fr. Cyril Unachukwu CCE
HOMILY: SOLEMNITY OF THE HOLY FAMILY OF JESUS, MARY AND JOSEPH YEAR C
The family remains the natural cradle of human life. In the family, life is given, received, lived and enjoyed in love. In the family, life actualises its true meaning. Coming to us in our nature, God also affirmed and blessed this fount of life by willing that His Eternal Son be born in a true human family of Mary and Joseph; hence the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. May our families continue to draw strength from the fount of grace and love in the Holy Family of Nazareth; Amen.
The Solemnity of today sustains our hearts in the spirit of this Season of Christmas, that God concretely entered our history and that He did that in a way that is very much comprehensible to all of us, in the Family of Nazareth. The Gospel Reading (Luke 2:41-52) presents to us part of the story of this beautiful family and the subtle manifestations of the great mystery therein in their midst, the mystery of the person of Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, which is summarised in the fifth of the Five Joyful Mysteries, “the finding of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple.” The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph was truly a human family confronted by the tensions of life and with certain periods of worry and uncertainties which were recaptured in the words of Mary to Jesus “My Child, why have you done this to us? See how worried your father and I have been, looking for you?” Just like in all families, the presence of tensions and worries and uncertainties was also manifested in the family of Elkanah and Hannah the parents of Samuel. The First Reading of today (I Sam 1:20-22, 24-28) recounts Hannah’s gestures of thanksgiving to God for leading them through these moments of her family’s tensions and difficulties. With a heart filled with thanks Hannah told Eli, “this is the child I prayed for, and the Lord granted me what I asked Him. Now I make him over to the Lord for the whole of his life. He is made over to the Lord.” This could be said of our respective families. There is no family that is privy of problems and challenges.
The uniqueness of the Holy Family lies in the fact that God was a visible member of that family in the person of Jesus Christ and that they understood each other’s mission and also they knew how to keep their calm and to respect each other’s peculiarities so as to realise the mission that was entrusted to them by God. Describing the Holy Family, Pope Saint John Paul II wrote that “the Holy Family is the prototype and example for all Christian families and the model and spiritual source for every Christian family. The home of Nazareth is the school where we begin to understand the life of Jesus, the school of the Gospel. In this school, one learns why it is necessary to have a spiritual rule of life, if one wishes to follow the teaching of the Gospel and become a disciple of Christ. In the home of Nazareth each one lives his or her own mission in perfect harmony with the other members of the Holy Family” (Ecclesia in Africa, n. 81). It is this harmony that is lacking in some families today. Living in harmony means recognizing that we are different and understanding that we are human and limited and sinful and looking for the middle way to move forward in our moments of crisis and difficulties. This middle way is not the option for the separation of spouses or divorce, but the interpersonal acceptance of one another and exercising the virtue of tolerance that is an integral part of married life and the life in the family.
In deeming it fit to enter concretely within the four walls of a human family, in the Family of Nazareth of Mary and Joseph, our Lord reaffirmed the will of God that the family is rightfully and fittingly built up by a man and woman, and where it pleases God, garnished by children as blessings from above and fruits of their pilgrimage of love, who are united together in love and assisted by the abiding grace of God. The human family opens up for everyone the door to enter a new and bigger family of God’s people just like human love ordinarily opens our hearts to a more powerful experience of the love of God. The family is a fountain of love, where love is given and received and shared. It is this exchange of love in the family, the domestic Church and the nucleus of the larger society, that prepares us to experience “the love that the Father has lavished on us by letting us be called God’s children; and that is what we are” (I John 3:1-2, 21-24). The love of God that exists in our families which we must share with each other helps us to confront the problems of life and to fully realise who we are and what God has in store for us! This love becomes most palpable when we enthrone Christ in our families as our most stable companion and when we allow ourselves to be transformed by the power of His Word. Can we truly say these of our families? The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph is the star that God has given us to guide us through this path.
“Holy Family of Nazareth, make our family one with you. Help us to be instruments of peace. Grant that love, strengthened by grace, may prove mightier than all the weaknesses and trials through which our families sometimes pass. May we always have God at the center of our hearts and homes until we are all one family, happy and at peace in our true home with you; Amen.”
Happy Sunday; Fr Cyril CCE