Homily (2) Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph Year A: Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo
Family: a Domestic Sanctuary
It is not surprising that following the celebration of Christmas, the Birth of Christ, we re-gather today to contemplate and celebrate the virtues of the Holy Family of Mary Joseph and Jesus. In fact, this Feast makes a lot sense for us since we are all fruits of a given family, a community of parents and children, brothers, sisters and relatives. Today, we celebrate the responsibility we owe each other.
The family of Joseph, Mary and Jesus was a family of “Yes!” and openness to God. Mary, in Luke’s Gospel says, “Be it done to me according to your Word,” (Luke 1:38). The righteous Joseph in Matthew’s Gospel quietly took Mary home as the Angel Gabriel had told him (Matt 1:24). Joseph provided for the safety of baby Jesus in
It was a family that handled their difficulties and confusion with prayer, and absolute trust in God. A typical example is the mystery of the sudden pregnancy of Mary by the divine agent. Pregnancy, I believe would be a very delicate period for women. It is a time that women enter upon a cycle of hopes of fears. She sees herself different in the mirror and is conscious of the risks and sufferings awaiting her. In such circumstances our husbands would not want to approach their wives as if they are in the military grounds, but like Joseph with gentleness and virtues of love, and joy (cf. Udoekpo, M. Family Functions, 1997, p. 19).
Joseph handled this well. He listened and was opened to the impulses of the Holy Spirit. He took Mary home (Matt 1:24). He loved, honored and respected Mary, and the child Jesus. Joseph a quiet and righteous man knew what his role was as a father. He was quite, but had a lot to say by his family life style.
He knew that every child needs a father and a mother(cf. 1989 Redemptoris Custos of Pope John Paul II). He did not walk away from his responsibility as some modern fathers do today. He knew he was called to love and protect the child Jesus- the New Moses (Matt 2:13-15,19-23), just as the old Moses was kept save in the Book of Exodus 1–4. He rose up and fled with the child Jesus to
Joseph, besides loving and respecting Mary must have also taught Jesus good carpentry trades and skills. From Mary and Joseph Jesus must have also learn their basic customs, how to say shalom, “good morning daddy,’ “good morning Mom,” and how to say some basic Jewish prayers, and meaning of things around him – patience, and compassion for fellow human beings-that would come to reflect in Jesus public ministry; in his turning water into wine at Cana in Galilee (Jn 2), in his multiplication of fish and bread, in his healing and forgiving ministries.
Joseph knew his job; his responsibility to Mary and Jesus.Jesus also knew his job. He was an obedient child. I am sure you would recall the incidence in Luke 2:41-51 when the boy Jesus stayed back in the
Echoes of such obedience are heard in the first reading of today (Sir 3:2-6, 12, 14), that, Whoever honors his parents atones for sins and preserves himself/herself from them. When he prays he is heard, and whoever respects the mum stores up wealth and riches for him/herself and will live long (cf. Exodus 20:12; and Deut 5:16).
You and I know, especially our parents that we live in a different time today. Today, there are many fathers and mothers who walk away from their mutual responsibility to their children, leaving them third parties under the name of personal freedom or 'too busy at work." Divorce has also become the order of the day to the detriment of our children. Today’s society is also searching for where to draw the line between the rights of parents and of the children: the movie the watch, the drinks the take, the conversation they engage and the examples they are shown. Are they adult food, drinks, movies? What examples do we show to our kids!: how we treat each other, how we return home from work on time, join the family at meals and how we relate and respect our next door neighbors? What about our faith and sexuality: how do we live or express them both at homes in the public- knowing that our kids, the future leaders, are watching! Do we twerk our sexuality or do we handle it with care, dignity and decency?
I grew up as a sixth child in a family of 4 surviving brothers and two sisters from same mom and dad. Customarily we respect our parents. We honor them. We show gratitude to them for many reasons- for raising us, for breast-feeding us, for the food, clothing, for the tuition, for teaching us the faith, name them. We never talked back to our parents. The respect is so deep and mutual that we cannot call our parents even our elderly ones by their first name. Usually whenever there is any misunderstanding in our family everybody is eager to work hard to have the matter resolved with compassion and love.
This is the Family Life in the Lord that
As we approach the table of the Holy Eucharist today, let us pray that each and every one of us may return home today, nourished by the virtues and exemplary lives of Mary, Joseph and Jesus.