Gospel Reflections

Feast of the Holy Family

Luke 2:41-51

Feast Day Reflection by Sister Catherine Waldron

Published: December 30, 2018

Read Luke 2:41-51

Each year Jesus' parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival,... Read More…


The first Sunday after Christmas is fittingly the feast of the Holy Family. As God is in relation to Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we are encouraged to be in right relationship to those closest to us – our family.

Several years ago when I returned unannounced to my former parish on Holy Family Sunday, I was asked to proclaim the readings. As is the custom in Afro-American communities, the congregation enhances the experience by inserting “Amen” whenever the statement strikes them as true. The men in the congregation chorused a spontaneous “Amen” following the statement “Wives, be subordinate to your husbands.” However the church was silent after hearing “Husbands, love your wives and avoid any bitterness toward them.” I paused and eventually said “Well, Church…” The congregation realized this directive to husbands was just as important as the one to the wives. A resounding “Amen” filled the Church. As their former co-pastor, I still delight in this family’s enthusiastic affirmation of recognizing their marital collaboration.

Each of today’s scripture selections focuses on aspects of family as “being in relation” with one another. Sirach tells us that those who honor their fathers and respect their mothers will receive forgiveness, will store up richness, will have many children, will live a long life.  Each son and daughter is charged with caring for their parents. Honor, respect, caring for others are essential to being in relation.

In Corinthians, Paul further describes “ being in relation” as being the embodiment of  heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another, forgiving one another, gratitude, love, and the peace of Christ. In other words, we are to put on Christ and be in relation to one another as God is in relation to God and to all creation.  Furthermore within married relation, wives and husbands who listen, respect, and communicate lovingly with each other mirror God’s love. Children are taught to obey. Parents are to respect and encourage goodness in their children.

Luke’s Gospel cites a concrete example of family relations. When Mary and Joseph realized Jesus was not with the group traveling home, they went together to find him. Their questions to Jesus were stated with both concern and respect.  Jesus’ question in return was direct, respectful and thought provoking. This example of interactions parent to parent and parents to child gives us pause. I wonder how many of us would be prepared to express our dismay so clearly and to hear such a puzzling response contemplatively while being so upset by both other family members involved.

Whatever form our families currently live, let us take to heart and mirror God’s way of being in relation to one another.

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