This weekend we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family, and it is a good time to stop and reflect on the meaning of the Christian Family. In past times the family unit consisted of the Mother and Father and the children and these days the family unit consists of maybe one parent and we have the same sex marriages which are a recent thing. We stop and remember exactly what the Christian family should mean for us who are people of Faith. We in Ireland have a particular reason for celebrating the Holy Family this year as we will be hosting the world meeting of Families here in Ireland in August 2018 and as we prepare for this great event it is a good to reflect on Family and what it means and these days there are more than one meaning for the word Family. This Sunday, we commemorate a family in deep stress because their Son is seen as a threat to a jealous king as Joseph and Mary are running for their lives from Herod the Great. Tradition says that after three years in exile, another angel informs Joseph that Herod is dead.
The Holy Family returns to their homeland, not to Bethlehem, since the new king who reigns in his father’s place is also a barbaric ruler. Joseph brings Mary and Jesus to his native town of Nazareth in Galilee. There, they lived a simple ordinary life, Joseph as a carpenter, and Mary as his wife and mother of Jesus. Jesus grew in holiness and in knowledge of God’s will in the same ordinary ways that families do in our day. We also remember the care that Mary and Joseph gave to Jesus. We recognize the sacrifice they made for Jesus, in the same way as we recognize the sacrifices our parents made for us and many more are making for their children today in our I want I get world. As the world continues to change so too the idea of what the family means is constantly under fire. For us who have come together to celebrate the feast of the Holy Family of Nazareth, the feast is a reminder of all that the Christian Family has meant to us, and all that he continues to mean to us. We remember that we have come to know Jesus through the guidance and the love and support, of our parents!
In the friendship of many other family members and of many other friends and significant people in our lives! And in things that have happened to us good and not so good! We have also met Christ in the sacraments we have celebrated as a community and as individuals. In this Sundays Gospel reading Simeon makes his prophecy about Christ’s destiny and as it says, ‘the child’s father and mother stood there wondering about him. Every parent wonders about their children and every parent is full of hope for their children. Over a period of time this might turn in to fear and anxiety, but the fundamental feeling of hope is still there. We hope that everything will turn out well for them; we hope that they will make a success of life; we hope that they will be safe and keep out of trouble; and that they will be happy. As we think about family life and what it is now we pray that the great ideal of the Family will continue to be cherished and not diminished and that we will celebrate it in our own lives and the lives of our families as we prepare for the World Meeting of Families In August 2018.