Holy Family [Lk 2:22-
31 December 2017
Presentation of Jesus in the Temple
Readings: (1) Sir 3:2-
1. Theme in brief
Longing for God’s salvation in our families
2. Focus Statement
Like the Holy Family of Nazareth, our Christian family is called to be devout; and like Simeon and Anna should have an intense desire to meet the Lord and experience his salvation.
3. Explanation of the text
Today’s gospel text portrays the parents of Jesus as faithful observers of the Law of Moses regarding purification of the mother after childbirth and presentation of the firstborn male child as holy to the Lord (2:22-
Simeon takes the Child Jesus in his arms and not only praises God for fulfilling his hope but also announces Jesus’ identity and mission. He identifies him as the universal Saviour, because through him now salvation has come not only to the Jews but to all peoples (2:31). The Divine Child in his arms is born not only to give glory to the chosen people of God (that is, Israel), but also as a Light of revelation to the Gentiles. Now guided by that Light (who is Jesus himself), the Gentiles can also recognize the revelation of God’s salvation. Since Simeon gets the wonderful privilege of seeing the Messiah with his own eyes, he is ready and willing to be dismissed from this world by his Master (2:29-
Next, Simeon predicts about the Child’s future mission and its implications for his Mother Mary (2:34). He foretells that this Child is destined to be opposed and rejected by his own people. Besides, a ‘sword’ of suffering and trials will pierce the heart of Mary because of this Child (2:35). Hence, Mary herself is destined to be a partner in the suffering and agony that her Child will have to undergo in future for the redemption of all. In other words, Simeon already announces Mary’s participation in the passion and cross of Christ before she is brought to the glory of his resurrection.
Finally, Luke’s gospel portrays the Holy Family of Nazareth as the place where Jesus grows in strength,wisdom and God’s favour (2:40). Luke wants to tell his readers that the Holy Family provides the context and atmosphere in which the Divine Child grows into maturity – physical, mental and spiritual.
4. Application to life
As we celebrate the feast of Holy Family, today’s gospel tells us that the Son of God, when he was born in a family, did not claim any special privilege for himself. He, as well as his parents humbly submitted themselves to all the human and religious laws like any other ordinary people. This example of the Holy Family makes us regret for the times we claimed special treatment for ourselves or took pride in our privileged position in our family because of our better contribution or higher salary for the family’s income or all-
The pair of turtle doves (instead of a lamb) brought by Joseph and Mary for sacrificial offering indicates their inability to offer a lamb due to their poverty. Besides, the old age of Simeon and Anna and the latter’swidowhood further reinforce the message of God taking the side of the poor and the helpless as he is born in the context of a family of Nazareth. This type of identification of God with the poor, challenges us to recognize poverty and hunger prevalent in our families in various parts of the world. Some are materially hungry for food ad poor for clothing and housing; some are hungry for love, care and concern. What about our attitudes towards the aged, elderly, sick, bedridden, widowed and disabled members of our family? We need to regret on this Family Feast day if we have neglected to take sufficient care of such members. Like Mary, a ‘sword’ of sorrow should pierce our hearts to see some aged and sick parents not taken care of by their own children. We should see to it that the sick and the aged in our family are not neglected so that when our time comes to depart from this world we can depart in peace as Simeon wished in today’s gospel text 2:29).
Like Joseph and Mary, and Simeon and Anna, our Christian family is called to be righteous and devout. Like Simeon, in our family we too should have an intense desire to meet the Lord and experience his salvation, first of all in daily family prayer, reading or listening to and reflecting on the Word of God. By doing so, Jesus himself becomes the unseen guest in our family whose hidden presence we feel in our joys and sorrows, success and failure, disappointment and frustration, tension and suffering. Our family becomes Christian only when we lay its foundation on the solid Rock (that is, Christ himself) and givepriority to establishment of his Kingdom or his gospel-
The spirituality of a Christian family consists in offering of itself to the Lord, as Jesus and Mary offered Child Jesus in the Temple. Since all of us in the family are baptized persons, we should not forget that all of us or the whole family is consecrated to the Lord and set apart to do his will by baptism itself. We are called to live a life of holiness in our own particular state of life. We are called to discover God’s will or hisplans in everyday events, in all the ups and downs. Married partners are called to help each other, and parents to help their children to live a life of holiness and discover God’s will in every day’s life. Together with Jesus who was offered in the temple, Christian parents need to offer their children to the Lord so that he may use them according to his designs. Together with Jesus who offered himself totally to God on the cross, Christian families are called to offer their joys and sorrows, struggles and trials, problems and hardships as sacrifice, "holy and acceptable to God" (Rom 12:1).
If living this daily consecration is applicable to all Christian families, how much more should it be for religious communities of persons belonging to consecrated life! Pope Francis, in his special letter to the Religious in the Year of Consecrated Life (2014 -
Today, as Simeon prophesized to Mary, we see a sword of suffering, anxiety, fear, humiliation and disgrace piercing the hearts of many parents when their children go astray and become victims of crime, terrorism, addictions (such as drugs/alcoholism) and delinquent behaviour. The same thing happens when some of them stop practising their faith or turn out to be agnostics or atheists. In many traditional families of some regions of the world where love-
Like the family of Nazareth, our family is the natural garden where human and spiritual values are sown and nurtured in children’s hearts. A question which Christian parents have to ask on this feast day is whether they are busy only in working hard to feed and educate their children, or equally concerned aboutinculcating values, wisdom and character into them; and whether their families are modelled on the Holy Family of Nazareth where Jesus grew in strength, wisdom and God’s favour. Besides feeding, clothing and educating children, parents are called to be equally concerned about inculcating the vales of sharing (instead of self-
5. Response to God's Word
Do we have an intense desire to see salvation from all kinds of pride and self-
6. A prayer
Jesus, by your birth in the Holy Family of Nazareth, you have sanctified the families of those who put their faith and trust in you. Grant that we may experience salvation from all types of selfishness and individualism that kill the family spirit among us. Give us the patience and strength to care for the sick and the aged in our family. As you grew in strength, wisdom and God’s favour in the Holy Family, give us wisdom to bring up our children in this model. Once again, we renew our baptismal consecration to God through you and resolve to give priority to your gospel-