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Homily for the feast of the holy family

27 Dec 2019, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Sermons

We celebrate today with great joy the feast of the Holy family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph; the Church presents this family as a model for the families of the world rocked by crises of all kinds. The Church presents this holy family, not as one without rough times or turbulences but with faith and trust in God in moments of temptations. The holy family we celebrate today was a ‘hunted’ family. King Herod was out for the life of the only child of this family; they were faced with fears, worries, and anxieties like every other family. The holy family the universal Church celebrates today had to run for safety after being warned by an angel of the Lord; they became refugees in a foreign land. They sought asylum in Egypt, where their ancestors were enslaved. And that tells the beautiful reconciliatory story of Christmas, that Christ came as a man to reconcile us to the Father and one another. The going to Egypt was like the Israelites embracing the Egyptians again; that is what Christmas is all about, reconciliation.

The holy family, yet the human family worked like every other family; Joseph, the husband of Mary, was a carpenter and the Son learned the trade from his foster father. The holy family was poor, certainly not a royal family or one of Israel’s celebrated families. In fact, at the presentation of Jesus and Mary’s purification, the holy family presented as offering a pair of turtle–doves or young pigeons, which was an offering prescribed for the poor according to the book of Leviticus 14:21-22. 

Though the family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph had to go through some tough moments, they remained steadfast and holy. Their faith and hope in God did not waver; they gave no chance to allowed the challenges of life to force them into questioning the reality and potency of God; they held onto the word of God as we read in our gospel passage this morning. When Joseph awoke, he did as he was told; they escape to Egypt in obedience. And in obedience, they returned when they were directed to do so by God. The word of God was their rule of life. Mary treasured the word of God in her heart and taught their little boy to do the same. At the age of twelve, the little boy was found in the Temple listening to scripture scholars and asking them questions. This family that faced challenges and very trying moments was able to remain faithful because God’s word was like staff in their hands for support. That is the family the Church presents to us today as a model.

We all are from families, and every family has her own challenges to face. If the holy family of all families faced challenges and difficult moment, then we should be ready to face it as well. We do not pray for turbulence in our families, but when it comes our way we hold onto the power of God. If families are strong and united, the Church will be strong and united and the world becomes a better place. Unfortunately, many families are falling apart, they have no time for each other. The man has no time for the wife nor time for the children. The wife too may not be different, and the children as well. The lack of communication among family members today is creating so much distance and disunity in homes; any family where fraternal communication is lacking creates room for disintegration, they disconnect from each other to be led astray. This disunity has led many family members to establish a relationship with a very deceptive family on social media, relating to the out-side world and proudly talk about the number of friends they have on their Facebook page and their Instagram followers. Yet, at home they are lonely and unhappy. The family is the ‘rock’ upon which you stand with the help of God; our families must be rededicated to God. It is not too late, you can begin today. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been disconnected from each other, you can make it up and be reunited with the help of God.

As we celebrate the holy family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph today, may the Lord bless our homes with peace and love. Amen!