Homily for the feast of the Holy Family - Year A - Mt. 2:13-15, 19-23


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

"Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, 'Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.' And he rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, 'Out of Egypt have I called my son.'


"But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, 'Rise, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child's life are dead.' And he rose and took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus reigned over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. And he went and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, 'He shall be called a Nazarene.' "





Homily:


"Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, 'Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.' And he rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt."


On the Sunday that follows Christmas - that is, today - the Church celebrates the feast of the Holy Family. Like last Sunday, it is Joseph who is in the spotlight in today's Gospel. In these times, when men of goodwill beg the Lord, as much as they can, for the gift of Peace for the world, and thus also for the Church, is it not a marvelous sign to see Joseph honored in this manner? For Joseph is he to whom God entrusted Jesus and Mary so that he might watch over them, keeping them in security and peace, to the extent that this is possible...


Joseph takes Jesus and Mary to Egypt. The three of them flee before the threats of King Herod. Would this be cowardice on their part? Why did they not go before their persecutors as so many martyrs have? Is there a double standard here? Not at all! For Joseph and the martyrs followed the Spirit who guided them! God knows all things, and he knows what is suitable for one person or another to do, in order that his Glory and his Power might shine forth in each particular case. Joseph was prudent: he obeyed the angel who had warned him and he carried out the will of God by fleeing before Herod!


In this account, we see that it is Joseph who makes all the decisions: Jesus, though he is God, is still an infant, and it is normal that he would not say anything; but why does Mary say nothing? Some would reply that conditions for women at that time would not allow her to express her opinion. Maybe so; but the Gospel always contains a sense that transcends the material and social contingencies of the time. If Mary does not say anything, and thus apparently does not participate in the decision-making of Joseph, it is to show us that the responsibility for the Holy Family rests entirely upon Joseph's shoulders!


Today, Joseph still watches over the Holy Family that is the Church! Today, Joseph still makes use of prudence to keep the Church, and even the whole world, in security and peace! But today Joseph is no longer alone: he has a multitude of brothers, many other Josephs called to watch over the Church and the world! These brothers, these other Josephs, are each and every one of faithful, great and small, men and women, who believe in Christ and who, throughout the ages, watch over the peace and security of the great family of God that is the Church! Like Joseph, each believer is responsible for peace in the world!


"But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, 'Rise, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child's life are dead.' And he rose and took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus reigned over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. And he went and dwelt in a city called Nazareth."


The danger has passed: Herod is dead, and Joseph can return to Israel. However, Joseph remains prudent: he suspects that the son of Herod is no less dangerous than his father. So he decides to withdraw to the place where he had already been living before the birth of Jesus: Nazareth. In doing so, he acts in an absolutely prudent manner, for the Lord confirms that his decision was a good one: "Being warned in a dream..."


Prudence! Always, prudence! Saint Thomas Aquinas made it the mistress of all the virtues... Being prudent does not solely consist of driving one's car with caution... Being prudent is to take the time to think before acting, to weigh the pros and cons, the advantages and the disadvantages of such and such a decision. Being prudent is also to waste neither time nor money...


It is necessary to be prudent, for we are very wasteful today... Why throw away what we might be able to use today or tomorrow? A sound economy belongs to prudence. Is not the current economic collapse in Argentina, to give but one example, a warning sign? So let us be prudent, each one in his own field, with the help of the grace of God!


May the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, silent in the contemplation of her Child-God, intercede for us before the Father, in order that all of us might form but a single heart and a single soul in the bosom of a single family: the Church!



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