Homily for the feast of the Holy Family, B.

Today we celebrate the feast of the holy family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Today the Church presents this family as an example of a perfect family, an encouragement to so many families that may be facing some challenging situations at the moment.

The holy family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph faced many challenges, like you and I are facing them today. They faced them all, they were challenged at different points of life but did not break up. We pray today that the holy family may intercede for all the families of our world.

In our first reading this morning we see Abram been assured in a vision that he will be a happy man again. God promised to restore happiness to his home, he believed, and by faith he became the father of nations.

In almost every family there are challenges; one of the greatest mistakes you can make as a family is to believe that your family problems are unique, that your family is the only one facing such challenges. Remember that there is nothing new under the sun; that problem you believe is unique to your family is exactly what so many other families have gone through, some are still going through like you. We are called today to let ourselves be encouraged by those who have gone through it and succeeded with the help of God. Look up to Abraham our father in faith and let your faith be challenged to say with St. Paul; I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Abram had problem, he was not happy about the fact that he hasn’t been blest with a child from Sarah. He expressed his feelings and worries to God but did not give up on God, he trusted even in the midst of every negativity around him. That is what the writer of the letter to the Hebrews made us understand in our second reading today, that by faith in God, Abraham who was as good as dead was blessed with a descendants many as the stars of heaven. Abraham did not allow the challenges he faced to shake his faith in God, he trusted to the end.

The holy family we celebrate today had their own challenges, their challenges did not remove the holiness of the family, it did not make them turn their back on God nor question him. Like Abraham, they trusted in God. The family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph was poor, unrecognized, yet a family of faith. It was a persecuted family, hunted by the civil authority and despised by men. The only child of the family was lost for three days, and you can imagine the agony the parents went through until they found him in the Temple. As if that was not enough, they lost him again for another three days to the power of death until they found him again at the resurrection. In all these, the family remained faithful to God; they did not ask God why their only child should be lost while carrying out their religious duty, or while serving him. They did not question God.

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph was a very poor family, they struggled like every other family to survive. The showed their poverty when they came to the temple to dedicate their child.

In the days of Mary and Joseph, the law tells you what you must bring for thanksgiving, but it is also written in Leviticus 12:8 that if the family is poor, then they could offer a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons. Those were the things Mary and Joseph brought for thanksgiving, the things prescribed for the poor. But in their poverty they remained holy, they did not leave God.

As we join the universal Church to celebrate the feast of the Holy Family today, let us re-dedicate our families to God. Our families should be a reflection of the holy family, a family that listens to the voice of God as Mary and Joseph did, a family where children are brought up to be obedient as Jesus was to his parents. Our families should be a family of prayer, for the family that prays together stays together. Our family problems should not make us give up on God but to lead us to God for help.

We pray today that the holy family of Nazareth may intercede for families of the world and make our families like theirs through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA

Joel Okojie is an ordained Catholic Priest in the Order of St. Augustine. He has been a Priest for over a decade. He served as pastor in two different parishes, he was one time Novice Master and a member of the Provincial Council of the province of St. Augustine of Nigeria, and he is currently on a mission in response to the needs of the Church in Canada.

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