Feast of the Holy Family ~ The Rev. Lady Sherwood, OPI

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph 

Reading 1:SIR 3:2-6, 12-14

Responsorial Psalm:PS 128:1-2, 3, 4-5

Reading 2:COL 3:12-21

Gospel:LK 2:22-40


Today, we come together as churches and as children of the Lord to celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. The Holy family of the Blessed Mary, of Joseph her spouse, and of course of our Lord Jesus Christ together as a full family. Now, we all come from families and we know as about both the joys and issues and difficulties family life can bring.  Families are made of  individuals, and individuals often have crosses to bear.  Even as part of a family, even in  the church family, we all have our crosses in life to carry. The Holy family, though indeed very blessed and Holy, were also still human and had their crosses of life to carry.

The crosses that were borne by the Holy family come to mind when reading the scriptures. Now just imagine what it must’ve been like when Mary and Joseph had to tell others how Mary had been conceived by the Holy Spirit alone? I sincerely doubt many people at first sincerely believed and accepted the truth of the situation.  Yes, there was probably talking behind their backs, mocking, and those who would’ve just seen it as merely untruthful.  How misunderstood both Mary and Joseph indeed must have been!  Can you can you imagine how they would feel?  We have all been misunderstood or not believed at times and it isn’t a good feeling at all! Even Mary, at the beginning of her pregnancy, was misunderstood by Joseph who was considering putting her away quietly,  before an Angel intervened in a dream and reassured Joseph of the truth of the  situation.  At that time Mary’s pregnancy would have been seen as acceptable by others, and Joseph was concerned how it would be seen and how it would be taken. Can you imagine how this must have felt to both Mary, and indeed to Joseph?

When Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem for Jesus’s birth, there was no room and all they could find was an animal’s shelter  because Bethlehem at that time was so crowded. Can you imagine not finding anywhere to give birth? Not nice at all! After the birth of Jesus, Both Mary and Joseph had to flee because Jesus’s life was in danger from King Herod, who was killing all newborn babies and those very young in an attempt to kill Jesus as Herod saw him as a very severe threat. How this must’ve felt to both Mary and to Joseph! The fear for their son’s safety, the sadness, the confusion…the suffering!!

Mary and Joseph suffered the awful experience of losing Jesus for three days when he was twelve years old and the only satisfaction they got from him was that he had to be about his Father’s business.

We do not hear of Joseph any more so we presume that before Jesus began his public ministry in Galilee Joseph had died – The Holy Family suffering the greatest pain of all families, the pain of bereavement and separation through death.

Jesus’ public ministry must have taken its toll on Mary. Simeon had predicted in the Temple that a sword of sorrow would pierce Mary’s soul. We can imagine one such occasion as we read in Mark 3:21 that when Jesus returned to Nazareth.  One day his relatives came to take him by force, convinced that he was out of his mind. Not a very pleasant experience for any family, no matter how holy.

There were so many other crosses this Holy family had to endure, but the saddest and the one which must’ve felt like Mary’s heart was being torn from her chest, was when Mary had to watch her only son die by crucifixion upon the cross for our salvation…oh what pain and sorrow!!!

All this suffering, pain and sadness this family has had to endure yet they stayed together and extremely strong throughout, and even kept their sanity…but how?

It was their sheer strength in their never-ending love both for God our Heavenly Father, and for each other, and for their endless faith and trust in God that enabled them to come through absolutely. So what holds us and our own families together in times of trauma, or suffering? We usually stay together because of our love and forgiveness of each other. We may at times have disagreements or words, but in the end true love keeps us in good stead. We should take notice always in the way we live our lives in the message that we get from the lives of the Holy Family, and that message is that no matter how hard we may feel our lives become, we must give all our love, faith, and trust to the Lord who will never ever fail us!! Let us pray to ask that we and all our families may live with the love, faith and true trust of the Lord in our lives!!


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