Sunday, December 26
The Holy Family – Feast
Roman Ordinary calendar
1st book of Samuel 1,20-22.24-28.
She conceived, and at the end of her term bore a son whom she called Samuel, since she had asked the LORD for him.
The next time her husband Elkanah was going up with the rest of his household to offer the customary sacrifice to the LORD and to fulfill his vows,
Hannah did not go, explaining to her husband, “Once the child is weaned, I will take him to appear before the LORD and to remain there forever; I will offer him as a perpetual nazirite.”
Once he was weaned, she brought him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and presented him at the temple of the LORD in Shiloh.
After the boy’s father had sacrificed the young bull, Hannah, his mother, approached Eli
and said: “Pardon, my lord! As you live my lord, I am the woman who stood near you here, praying to the LORD.
I prayed for this child, and the LORD granted my request.
Now I, in turn, give him to the LORD; as long as he lives, he shall be dedicated to the LORD.” She left Samuel there.
How lovely your dwelling, O LORD of hosts!
My soul yearns and pines for the courts of the LORD.
My heart and flesh cry out for the living God.
Blessed are they who dwell in your house!
Continually they praise you.
Happy the men whose strength you are!
Their hearts are set upon the pilgrimage.
O LORD of hosts, hear our prayer;
hearken, O God of Jacob!
O God, behold our shield,
and look upon the face of your anointed.
First Letter of John 3,1-2.21-24.
Beloved: See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
Beloved, if (our) hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence in God
and receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.
And his commandment is this: we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded us.
Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them, and the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit that he gave us.
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 2,41-52.
Each year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover,
and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom.
After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it.
Thinking that he was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances,
but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him.
After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions,
and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers.
When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”
And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
But they did not understand what he said to them.
He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart.
And Jesus advanced (in) wisdom and age and favor before God and man.
Reflection by Eric Sammons, Crisis Publications:
In today’s individualistic culture, many people think that the individual is the basic unit of society. But in reality, it is the family, not the individual, that forms the fundamental unit of human living.
In the beginning, God said “It is not good for man to be alone” (Gen 2:18), revealing that we were made for community. The community we are called to reflects, in a sense, the fundamental community of the Triune God. Just as God in His Three Persons is never “alone,” so too are we not to be alone. This is true from the beginning of each person’s existence, as we are first connected to another person—our mothers—and then are born into a community of people, the family.
When God the Son became man, he wanted to experience the fullness of human existence. He did not appear suddenly as a full-grown man; no, he was conceived in the womb of a woman and then born into a family—the family par excellence, the Holy Family. He lived with his family until he was ready to begin his public ministry, spending each day with them, learning from them, and helping in the daily tasks of family life in his time. But most mysteriously, Jesus “was subject to” his parents, Joseph and Mary. Even though Mary is the greatest of creation and Joseph was “a just man” (Mt 1:19), they were still mere creatures, nothing compared to the God-Man Jesus Christ. Yet “Christ, to whom the whole universe is subject, was subject to his parents” (St. Augustine, Sermons 51, 19).
St. Paul describes the ideal attitude toward family life in Sunday’s Epistle: “Put ye on therefore, as the elect of God, holy, and beloved, the bowels of mercy, benignity, humility, modesty, patience: bearing with one another and forgiving one another if any have a complaint against another.” This is what Jesus did: imagine the mercy, benignity, humility, modesty, and patience necessary for Our Lord to stoop down to the level of his creation, being obedient to his creatures, all in order to save us. It would be like us making ourselves subject to ants.
As St. Paul writes elsewhere (Phil 2:3-11), our humility must model itself on Christ’s humility. Many teenagers today are (rightly) criticized for thinking they know better than their parents, even when they have not yet gained the wisdom to know better. Yet how often do each of us have a similar attitude, believing ourselves more knowledgeable and more wise than our superiors, and thus refusing, at least in our hearts, to be subject to them? Yet Christ himself—who was infinitely more knowledgeable and wise than any creature—made himself subject to his human parents. Our pride resists humility, but as the Scriptures say, “God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble” (Jas 4:6). Humility is not only a necessary component for a peaceful family life, but also to be in God’s good graces.
The Feast of the Holy Family is a good reminder of the importance of living in community, and the humility necessary to do so without conflict. Let us model ourselves on Our Lord, who humbled himself not only to become a man, but even an obedient child.