December 29, 2013: Feast of the Holy Family
Catholic Social Teaching: Call to Family, Community and Participation
“The sacredness and dignity of human life exists not in isolation, but affirmed through individuals growing in community and seeking together the well being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable.”
First Reading: Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14
Psalm: 128:1-2, 3, 4-5
Second Reading: Colossians 3:12-21
Gospel: Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23
Catechism of the Catholic Church
“The Christian family is a communion of persons, a sign and image of the communion of the Father and the Son, in the Holy Spirit…Daily prayer and reading, of the Word of God, strengthen it in charity. The Christian family has an evangelizing and missionary task.” (2)
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church
It is in the family that one learns the love and faithfulness of the Lord, and the need to respond to these (cf. Ex 12:25-27, 13:8,14-15; Deut 6:20-25, 13:7-11; 1 Sam 3:13). It is in the family that children learn their first and most important lessons of practical wisdom, to which the virtues are connected (cf. Prov 1:8-9, 4:1-4, 6:20-21; Sir 3:1-16, 7:27-28). Because of all this, the Lord himself is the guarantor of the love and fidelity of married life (cf. Mal 2:14-15).
Jesus was born and lived in a concrete family, accepting all its characteristic features and he conferred the highest dignity on the institution of marriage, making it a sacrament of the new covenant (cf. Mt 19:3-9). It is in this new perspective that the couple finds the fullness of its dignity and the family its solid foundation. (210)
The immediate purpose of the Church’s social doctrine is to propose the principles and values that can sustain a society worthy of the human person. Among these principles, solidarity includes all the others in a certain way. It represents “one of the fundamental principles of the Christian view of social and political organization”.
Light is shed on this principle by the primacy of love, “the distinguishing mark of Christ’s disciples (cf. Jn 13:35)”. Jesus teaches us that “the fundamental law of human perfection, and consequently of the transformation of the world, is the new commandment of love” (cf. Mt22:40, Jn 15:12; Col 3:14; Jas 2:8). Personal behaviour is fully human when it is born of love, manifests love and is ordered to love. This truth also applies in the social sphere; Christians must be deeply convinced witnesses of this, and they are to show by their lives how love is the only force (cf. 1 Cor 12:31-14:1) that can lead to personal and social perfection, allowing society to make progress towards the good. (580)
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The Holy Family may appear placid in iconic renditions, but behind the mosaic lays the challenges woven into the mundane. Fleeing persecution, becoming migrants, settling in a foreign land, returning home and striving to survive economically from the work of one’s hands, just like migrants today fleeing political and religious persecution and economic instability. Today, there may be attempts to idealize the family, but reality breaks through the gilded finish. Abject economic poverty forcing decisions between food, housing or heat on a cold winter night, might jar reality in 21.8 percent of American youth (under the age of 18) living in poverty. Or families with material abundance can be nestled in cocoons of affluence, that exist in poverty of love. For them life’s defining attributes are purchasable possessions, not heart-felt compassion. Violence can jolt the idealized family mold, as defenseless children suffer abuse, leaving etched scars that provoke distrust and discouragement. As the human family, our vision of family must focus beyond a nuclear core with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, to help heal fracturing in families. For seismic waves of family discord reverberate into society impacting educational performance, delinquency, crime and strains on social services. We must refrain from labeling families that fail to represent the ideal mold, as demonizing leaves a stigma, void of love.
Childhood abuse and neglect: statistics and economic impact
Individual Reflection: Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23
The USCCB has designated January 5-11, 2014 as National Migration Week: Out of the Darkness for awareness of migrant children, the undocumented, refugees and victims of human trafficking. Visit the website for prayer cards in English and Spanish and bulletin inserts. Encourage your parish to acknowledge this observance, with a prayer intention in the Prayers of the Faithful, article in the bulletin and evening of sharing by migrants about their challenges.
Family Reflection: Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23
Contact your local Catholic Charities to see how you might assist migrants.
Prayer: Colossians 3:12-21
Lord, thank you for your forgiveness, for in it I have finally experienced freedom. The freedom to live beyond fear, for your perfect love wipes away fear. Thank you for calling us into peace, to cease being us and them, good and the bad people, but One Body unified in your Spirit. Thank you for the gift of your Word, a richness of truth to teach us your grace. Help us so that our every word and deed is done in your name. We give thanks to God our Father.
In Jesus’ dear name, Amen
Blogs to Visit:
As we reflect upon Mary’s presence in the mysteries of the Rosary, we are blessed to know her. For her journey, a timeless trek, calls us to surrender, continuing conversion, humbleness and justice now.
Weekly lectionary reflections, for faith sharing groups, parish bulletins, newsletters or personal prayer, from the synergy of the Word we hear and the rich tradition of Catholic Social Teaching.
Catholic Social Teaching offers seven principles for upholding life in our thoughts, decisions and actions.
How we do Catholic Social Teaching.
Creation sustainability ministry resources in the spirit of the St Francis Pledge.
List one or two upcoming events, legislative action alerts or social justice websites
By Barb Born December 3, 2013 The reflection maybe used in parish bulletins, newsletters or for faith sharing groups without copyright concern.