Homily for the Feast of the Holy Family
Year A

Sir 3:2-6 & 12-14 - Col 3:12-21 - Mt 2:13-15 & 19-23

by Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen

The model of the family

Sir 3:2-6

Sir 3:2, For the Lord honored the father above the children, and he confirmed the right of the mother over her sons. Whoever honors his father atones for sins, 4, and whoever glorifies his mother is like one who lays up treasure. 5, Whoever honors his father will be gladdened by his own children, and when he prays he will be heard. 6, Whoever glorifies his father will have long life, and whoever obeys the Lord will refresh his mother.

Each year, as indeed at the end of this year 2007, the Church celebrates, on the Sunday following Christmas, a special feast consecrated to honoring the Holy Family: Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. The Holy Family is the model for all the families of the world. At least, it is the ideal that the Church proposes to us. In certain countries or regions, this ideal is still imitated, more or less perfectly. Elsewhere, alas, we find couples who are not married, couples composed of two men or two women, with or without children... Not to mention broken families, which have either become single-parent families, or have been reconstituted this way or that...

May God forgive us for having disfigured his creation in this way! May He deign to grant us his grace, necessary for imitating the Holy Family! For, let us repeat it, the Holy Family must be the model for all the families in the world. The Holy Family, indeed, is composed of beings who are altogether pure and holy, holy as God is Holy in Three Persons, the three Persons of the Most Holy Trinity. The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph is also the model for the first human family, the one made up of the first man and the first woman: Adam and Eve.

The Holy Family is the model for all the families in human history. This is why the verses from the book of Ecclesiasticus that we read today also relate to the Holy Family. Now, on what does the sacred writer insist? Does he not lavish his advice almost exclusively on children? Were children not the first ones responsible for the disintegration of the concept of the family? Who committed the first homicide in history? Was it not Cain, the son of Adam and Eve? "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged." (cf. Deut 5:16)

Col 3:12-14 & 18-21

Col 3:12, Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, 13, forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14, And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 18, Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19, Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. 20, Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21, Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

As he often does, Saint Paul, in today's second reading, insists on the charity and harmony that must reign among the faithful, and even more so among Christian families. With the help of the grace of God, which is meant to make us holy, all of this is possible! "Above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony." Saint Paul, too, emphasizes the duties of children: "Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord." Even if, from time to time, the fault lies first with the parents: "Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged."

Of course, some will find the Apostle's following advice outmoded: "Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord." Today, women dress like men. Why not? Saint Joan of Arc did. But this will not make men and women equal to each other. Once again, let us stop destroying the creation of God! Let us respect natural law! May women find their principal happiness in procreation and the education of their children! And may men be happy and content with providing for the needs of their household! The Rights of Man, yes, in the measure that they respect the Rights of God...

Mt 2:13-15 & 19-23

Mt 2:13, 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.» 14, And he rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt, 15, 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.» (Os 11:1) 19, But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, 20, «Rise, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child's life are dead.» 21, And he rose and took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. 22, 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. 23, 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.

This Sunday's gospel shows us the Holy Family faced with a persecutor: Herod, who has ordered the killing of the young children in the neighborhood of Bethlehem (cf. Mt 2:16). Thanks to God, who watches over them, through his Angel, the Holy Family is warned to leave their country and to seek refuge, for a time, in Egypt. Some time later, the Angel of the Lord tells Joseph that he can return home, not to Bethlehem, but rather to Nazareth.

Let us entrust our family, let us entrust all the families of the world to divine Providence! Through Mary, Queen of the Angels, may all the countries of the world live in Peace!

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