December 27, 2015: Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
Catholic Social Teaching: Call to Family, Community and Participation
The social subjectivity of the family, both as a single unit and associated in a group, is expressed as well in the demonstrations of solidarity and sharing not only among families themselves but also in the various forms of participation in social and political life. This is what happens when the reality of the family is founded on love: being born in love and growing in love, solidarity belongs to the family as a constitutive and structural element.
This is a solidarity that can take on the features of service and attention to those who live in poverty and need, to orphans, the handicapped, the sick, the elderly, to those who are in mourning, to those with doubts, to those who live in loneliness or who have been abandoned. It is a solidarity that opens itself to acceptance, to guardianship, to adoption; it is able to bring every situation of distress to the attention of institutions so that, according to their specific competence, they can intervene. (246) Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church
First Reading: Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14 Alternative reading for Year C: 1st Samuel 1:20-22, 24-28
Psalm: 128:1-2, 3, 4-5 Alternative reading for Year C: Psalm 84:2-3, 5-6, 9-10
Second Reading: Colossians 3:12-21 Alternative reading for Year C: 1stJohn:3:1-2, 21-24
Gospel: Luke 2:41-52
Catechism of the Catholic Church
The hidden life at Nazareth allows everyone to enter into fellowship with Jesus by the most ordinary events of daily life: The home of Nazareth is the school where we begin to understand the life of Jesus – the school of the Gospel. First, then, a lesson of silence. May esteem for silence, that admirable and indispensable condition of mind, revive in us. . . A lesson on family life. May Nazareth teach us what family life is, its communion of love, its austere and simple beauty, and its sacred and inviolable character… A lesson of work. Nazareth, home of the “Carpenter’s Son”, in you I would choose to understand and proclaim the severe and redeeming law of human work. . . To conclude, I want to greet all the workers of the world, holding up to them their great pattern their brother who is God. (533) From Daily Roman Missal, Introduction to the Feast of the Holy Family
The finding of Jesus in the temple is the only event that breaks the silence of the Gospels about the hidden years of Jesus. Here Jesus lets us catch a glimpse of the mystery of his total consecration to a mission that flows from his divine sonship: “Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s work?” Mary and Joseph did not understand these words, but they accepted them in faith. Mary “kept all these things in her heart” during the years Jesus remained hidden in the silence of an ordinary life. (534) From the Daily Roman Missal, Introduction to the Feast of the Holy Family, Cycle C
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. Mal2:14-15).
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)
In his preaching, Jesus teaches that we should appreciate work. He himself, having “become like us in all things, devoted most of the years of his life on earth to manual work at the carpenter’s bench” in the workshop of Joseph (cf. Mt 13:55; Mk 6:3), to whom he was obedient (cf. Lk 2:51). Jesus condemns the behaviour of the useless servant, who hides his talent in the ground (cf. Mt 25:14-30) and praises the faithful and prudent servant whom the Master finds hard at work at the duties entrusted to him (cf. Mt 24:46). He describes his own mission as that of working: “My Father is working still, and I am working” (Jn 5:17), and his disciples as workers in the harvest of the Lord, which is the evangelization of humanity (cf. Mt 9:37-38). For these workers, the general principle according to which “the labourer deserves his wages” (Lk 10:7) applies. They are therefore authorized to remain in the houses in which they have been welcomed, eating and drinking what is offered to them (cf. Lk 10:7). (259)
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. Mt 22:40, 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)
The Psalmist proclaims, “ Blessed are they that dwell in your house, O Lord.” But is everyone whose soul yearns and pines for the courts of the Lord allowed to pursue their pilgrimage? May they continually praise you Lord and find happiness from achieving their strength in you ? Or is the door shut before they can enter, slammed in their face, or even unthinkably told to leave from the Lord’s house by worldly guardians instant on a pristine religious country club environment instead of a divine palace? Worldly judgment offering membership or excluding, without consulting the Lord’s mercy. This is the reality for the human family, God’s children. Seeking to worship, serve in ministry yet told they are unwelcome, just as the Holy Family was denied a comfortable room at the inn. As God’s plan for salvation was not deterred by an innkeeper and the miracle happened in a stable, so today God will not see His kingdom on earth thwarted by gatekeepers thinking they are protecting faith with religious freedom condoning judgment before mercy, narrowness over inclusion. As Jesus left the security of the womb, to enter the reality of the world in the humbleness of a stable, must not our Church and parishes offer the humble welcoming towards all lives that enter seeking mercy. Or will judgment before they enter leave them spiritually homeless, will lack of conversation disconnect their conversation from God, will the lack of offering hope spiral them into worldly despair?
As Mary and Joseph were surprised to find Jesus in the temple, who might we be surprised to find in our parishes if we truly welcomed everyone without exception? To look beyond sin inherent in all human nature and focus on our connectedness, as we are all made in the image and likeness of God. As Jesus dialogued with teachers in the temple listening and asking questions to the astonishment of Mary and Joseph, might we be astonished today listening to the dialogue that could take place if religious freedom escaped a paranoia of purity? An environment that fails to open wide the doors of our Church to embrace people where they are instead of establishing preconceived credentials for setting a foot onto sacred space and using one’s God given gifts in service of the kingdom. For if we believe in Jesus Christ and love one another, as He commanded us, we remain in Him through the Spirit. Love only welcomes, love only includes, love only offers mercy and love respects everyone’s God given gifts.
Individual Reflection: Luke 2:41-52
Take an inventory around your parish of the exclusion that takes place. Ask the question to yourself and pose it to others, WWJE (Who Would Jesus Exclude), and look at avenues to have a more inclusive Church grounded in mercy. Please send your observations to: firstname.lastname@example.org and look soon for a new blog: whowouldjesusexclude.wordpress.com
Family Reflection: 1st John 3:1-2, 21-24
How can your nuclear family be less isolated from the human family in 2016?
Prayer: Year of Mercy
Lord Jesus Christ,
you have taught us to be merciful like the
and have told us that whoever sees you sees Him.
Show us your face and we will be saved.
Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew
from being enslaved by money;
the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness
only in created things;
made Peter weep after his betrayal,
and assured Paradise to the repentant thief.
Let us hear, as if addressed to each one of us,
the words that you spoke to the Samaritan woman:
“If you knew the gift of God!”
You are the visible face of the invisible Father,
of the God who manifests his power above all by
forgiveness and mercy:
let the Church be your visible face in the world, its
Lord risen and glorified.
You willed that your ministers would also be
clothed in weakness
in order that they may feel compassion for those
in ignorance and error:
let everyone who approaches them feel sought
after, loved, and forgiven by God.
Send your Spirit and consecrate every one of us
with its anointing,
so that the Jubilee of Mercy may be a year of grace
from the Lord,
and your Church, with renewed enthusiasm, may
bring good news to the poor,
proclaim liberty to captives and the oppressed,
and restore sight to the blind.
We ask this of you, Lord Jesus, through the intercession
of Mary, Mother of Mercy; you who live and reign with the Father
and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. 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 18, 2015 The reflection maybe used in parish bulletins, newsletters or for faith sharing groups without copyright concern.