Today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family. How appropriate that the first Sunday after celebrating the birth of Jesus we celebrate his family. We can see here the importance that God places on the role of the family, in sending His son to be born into one.
We are all part of a family. On Christmas day Fr.Robert talked about this very thing: Jesus, as God made man, grew up in a family. He learned a trade, how to be a carpenter, under his father, and I am sure learned many more things. As God though He submitted to family life. And we catch a glimpse of this in the Gospel, that they went back to their hometown, where Mary had grown up, “and the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom.” They went back to a normal life, from what we hear. But before returning to Mary’s hometown Joseph and Mary present Jesus at the temple, to the Lord God. Having participated intimately with God in bringing forth this gift, this new life which they had been entrusted with, they offer this gift back to God. This is a model to us of entrusting what we have received as gift back to God, that it may become holy and set apart. In this we are shown that it is not the earthly things that truly matter, but rather the spiritual.
As believers, having received the gift of faith, we are faced with the choice of placing God as the King of our lives and our families, or not; in offering all that we have received back to God, or in responding with indifference, clutching to our own little kingdoms. This is what family is about, that family life can lead us to a deeper trust in God, a school of love towards others, and a movement towards becoming holy. It is a learning to live in God, our Creator, and all that He desires for us, in creating us to be happy and to be with Him.
We see a beautiful example of this faith in God in Genesis. We hear the story of Abraham and Sarah, who placed all of their trust in God, even above the needs and desires of their family. Even though we hear God’s response to their faith in making Abraham and Sarah the father and mother of generations, in receiving their son, Isaac, they go so far as to offer Isaac back to God by sacrificing him. What a powerful image to us.
Let us remember today the gift that we have received, that of our families, the opportunity to find our Creator in our daily activities and duties where He wants to be with us, and to offer the gifts we have received back to him as we look to the model and example of Abraham and Sarah, and also that of the Holy Family!
Scripture references taken from:
Genesis 15.1-6; 17.3-5, 15-16; 21.1-7
Hebrews 11.8, 11-12, 17-19