Homily Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph Year C- Fr. Michael U Udoekpo. Readings: 1 Samuel 1:20-22,24-28; Ps 84:2-3,5-6,9-10; 1 John 3:1-2,21-24 and Luke 2:41-52
The Expectation of a Holy Family
In the Bible lessons of today are list of things expected of a good and holy family. In the case of Elkanah, Hannah and Samuel in the first reading, we notice that they were all dedicated to God. It was a family that trusts in God, frequent temple worship, kept their vows, and remained very prayerful no matter what.
Like in the biblical type of Sarah in the Book of Genesis, Hannah was barren for a while. It was not always easy to live that way in those days, to be childless. She prayed and asked the Lord for a child, who happened to be Samuel whom she finally set apart for the Lord as she promised. Samuel would be obedient and a docile theological apprentice under the feet of Eli the priest. He will not grow up to be like the bad sons of Eli cheating in the temple. Besides Eli, Samuel also learned virtues from his parents Elkanah and Hannah.
So also is Jesus in the Gospel story of today. Notwithstanding the mystery and the human complexities of the conception of and birth of Jesus, Mary and Joseph taught Jesus how to be patient, faithful to their community laws and ethics of the Passover worship. It was at the end of such worships that Jesus stayed back at the temple surrounded by learned temple teachers whom he listened to while robustly interacting with them. He did this to the amazement of the congregation, since Jesus appeared clever than his age.
More so, his parents did not know that Jesus had stayed back in the Temple of the Lord. It took them some 3 days on foot, to be physically retraced their way back to Jesus in the temple, who divinely defended that he was in his fathers’ house, doing his father’s business when Mary and Joseph expressed seemingly human and natural frustration, “your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”
Jesus’ divine defense did not stop him from accompanying his parent home. It did not prevent Jesus from living under total obedience to his parents. With these, he increasingly advanced in wisdom and favor before God and the community.
Every parent can also learn from Elkanah, Hannah, Mary and Joseph- the challenges of raising our children. Every child can also learn from Jesus how to balance our aspiration and calling with filial piety and respect and obedient we owe our parents, teachers and mentors as commanded in the Torah by the Lord himself, reiterated even in the second reading of today,
“Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence in God and receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.”
It pleases the Lord when parents live out their parental responsibilities in our changing world today and strive to imitate Elkanah, Hannah, Mary and Joseph. Here and there, the Lord commands parents to love their children. It pleases the Lord when children in their turn imitate not only the boy Samuel but Jesus in their different capacities and perspectives in life, as commanded by the Lord in various passages of the scriptures. These are the expectations that can only be met with prayers and focus on God.