December 30, 2022
by Nancy Shirley
Creighton University - retired
click here for photo and information about the writer

Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
Lectionary: 17

Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14 OR 1 Samuel 1:20-22, 24-28
Psalm 128:1-2, 3, 4-5 OR 84:2-3, 5-6, 9-10
Colossians 3:12-21 OR 3:12-17 OR 1 John 3:1-2, 21-24
Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23

Celebrating Christmas home page

Pope Francis' Homily on the Holy Family: 2020 |
2018 | 2017 | 2015 | 2014 |

Praying with the Aftermath of Christmas

When I first received my assignment for this date, I was excited to reflect on the readings for the Holy Family.  As the date came closer, I became more hesitant – how to do justice to reflecting on the ideal family while living in reality.  Where is the balance between idealizing families and facing our brokenness as humans?  Christmas season is certainly the time to focus on hope and the “gifts” that we are given throughout the year.  The gift of family – whatever shape or form – is one to celebrate not only at this time but also throughout the year. Perhaps it makes great sense that we read about the Holy Family as we start the new year – to remind us of the need to appreciate family every day – and be full of hope for the new year.

I especially appreciated the gospel and the focus on Joseph.  Every reading about Joseph fills my heart with the image of a wonderful father.  While I pray frequently to Mary and consider her my loving Mother, I do cherish Joseph.  I understand that he is not a father in the way of our one Father – perfect and loving, yet Joseph to me comes as close as possible for an earthly perfect father.  He is understanding and forgiving, noble and humble, strong yet gentle and, most of all, a man of unfailing and enduring faith. Joseph listened to angels well before Bethlehem and accepted the situation and explanation.  It’s always impressed me that even before the first dream and angel message, he did not condemn Mary, rather planned a way to save her.  He demonstrated that he was a man of kindness and compassion even when he thought he had been betrayed. His following of the dreams related in this gospel further confirm his faith in his God and his faithfulness to his family. He is the consummate protector – doing whatever was/is necessary for his family and in his very special way being guided by angels in dreams.  Joseph protected Jesus from before He was born and continued this care throughout His childhood and probably early adulthood. He was an earthly role model for Jesus, teaching Him to be a carpenter until His time came for public ministry. 

Even though many details are missing as to Joseph’s life, we know he is the good and faithful father and husband.  He is, indeed, a pivotal piece of the Holy Family.  Mary, our perfect mother, born without sin, provides the epitome of motherhood – one to hold in reverence and awe.  I always pray to her especially when praying for my children and grandchildren, knowing she understands the concerns of a mother.  However, I know that I will never be close to her perfection.  Joseph offers us (me) the approachable parent – not perfect but certainly wonderful!  I can learn so much from each member of the Holy Family!

Good, Good Father

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