Sir 3: 2-6; 12-14
Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23
Vatican 2 taught that “Strengthened by so many and such great means of salvation, all the faithful, whatever their condition or state, are called by the Lord each in his or her own way to that perfect holiness by which the Father himself is perfect”. (Lumen Gentium 11).
Unfortunately, the term ‘holy’ is generally used in reference to ‘spiritual’ or ‘out of this world’. Jesus and his family were firmly of this world. There is enough in the Biblical story to suggest Mary, Joseph and Jesus shared in the experience of so many families: In a culture that called for families to return to their town to be registered for a census, how could one family not be welcomed, especially when they were expecting a child? That is what we are told was the family experience in Luke’s gospel. Many members of families have to deal with rejection because of premature pregnancy, a different sexual identity or a youth who goes his or her own way. Those families that embrace difference and honour one another are living holiness.
This family was forced, like so many today, to escape to a foreign country (Egypt) because of a ruthless King. The family became refugees, as we hear in today’s gospel from Matthew.
This was not a privileged family. This was an ordinary family whose holiness was built on responding to God’s call, and the principal character in today’s feast who displays that faithfulness and holiness is Joseph. Throughout the gospels, Joseph does not utter a single word, but he responds instantly and without question to what is asked of him. He is described as being a man of honour, by Matthew, seeking to do what is right by God’s law and protecting the reputation of Mary, the woman he loved.
May the ‘holy family’ inspire us to do what is honourable and nurture each other so as to bring true love and joy to our world.
Brian Traynor CP has been involved in faith formation for many years especially in the form of parish missions and through the Passionist Family Group Movement. Brian is a member of the Passionist community at Holy Cross, Templestowe.