Deacon Sil's Word For All Feast Of The Holy Family
Table of Contents
First Reading (Sirach 3: 2-6,12-14)
Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 128: 1-5)
Second Reading (Colossians 3: 12-21)
Gospel (Luke 2: 41-52)
Homily: Children of God
Prayers of the Faithful
Go To the Table of Contents First Reading (Sirach 3: 2-6,12-14)
For the Lord sets a father in honor over his children; a mother's authority he confirms over her sons.
He who honors his father atones for sins; he stores up riches who reveres his mother. He who honors his father is gladdened by children, and when he prays he is heard. He who reveres his father will live a long life; he obeys the Lord who brings comfort to his mother. My son, take care of your father when he is old; grieve him not as long as he lives. Even if his mind fail, be considerate with him; revile him not in the fullness of your strength. For kindness to a father will not be forgotten, it will serve as a sin offering--it will take lasting root.
Go To the Table of Contents Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 128: 1-5)
Refrain: O happy are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways. 1) Blessed is every one who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways! You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be happy, and it shall be well with you. (Refrain) 2) Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; Your children will be like olive shoots around your table. (Refrain) 3) Lo, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord. The Lord bless you from Zion! May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life! May you see your children's children! Peace be upon Israel! (Refrain)
Go To the Table of Contents Second Reading (Colossians 3: 12-21)
Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.
Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.
Go To the Table of Contents Gospel (Luke 2: 41-52)
Each year his parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom. After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Thinking that he was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances,
but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, "Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety." And he said to them, "Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" But they did not understand what he said to them. He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus advanced (in) wisdom and age and favor before God and man.
Go To the Table of Contents Resources:
- Good News, by Rev. Joseph T. Nolan. Liturgical Publications, Inc., 2875 South James Drive, New Berlin, WI. 53151. (Visit their web site at http://www.execpc.com/~lpi.) - Jesus Goes to School. From Dynamic Preaching, Seven Worlds Corporation, 310 Simmons Road, Knoxville, Tn. 37922. Visit their web page at http://www.sermons.com) - The Perfect Time to Lose Your Luggage. From Homiletics, by Dr. Leonard Sweet. Communication Resources, 4150 Belden Village Street NW, Suite 400, Canton, Ohio 44799-6115. - Days of the Lord, Volume 1, pp. 221-222, 237-241. The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Mn., 1991. - The Living Pulpit, 5000 Independence Avenue, Riverdale, NY 10471. (Contact them at their web site at http://www.pulpit.org.) - The Garments of Christian Grace, The Perfect Bond and The Personal Relationships of the Christian. From The Letter to the Colossians, by William Barclay. Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, Kentucky. 1975.
Go To the Table of Contents Homiletic Ideas:
- How many of us have experienced the loss of a child in our travels? - When fathers fail to take responsibility for their families, a whole pandora's box of evils are unleashed.
Go To the Table of Contents Homily: Children of God
If we look at today's readings, we would see that they all focus on relationships. But for the most part, they are not speaking about just any relationships, but a particular type of relationships, namely, family relationships. The fourth of the ten commandments which God gave to Moses was: Honor your father and your mother, and the author of our first reading from the Wisdom of Sirach amplifies on this command. He confirms the authority not only of a father over his children, but also of a mother over her sons. Conversely, by honoring their parents and following God's command, and respecting them as they would respect God himself, children atone for their own sins and store up riches in heaven. Finally, the author stresses the need for children to care for their elderly parents. He says that children should not "grieve" their parents, that is, cause them to feel grief or sorrow or to oppress or wrong them. And even though Alzheimer's disease as such was unknown at the time, he advises children to "be considerate of their father, even if his mind fail," and not "revile" him; that is, not address him or speak contemptuously or abusively of him.
In the second reading, the writer to the Colossians discusses the qualities of Christian life which should govern our relationships with one another, both inside and outside of the family. The most important of these qualities are compassion, kindness, patience and forgiveness, all of which are rooted in Christian love.
Both of these readings are cited extensively in the Catechism in its discussion of the Christian family. "The Christian family constitutes a specific revelation and realization of the church's communion, and for this reason it can and should be called a domestic church. For it is a community of faith, hope, and charity." (#2204) We also need to remember that our human family has its origins in the Divine Family of the Trinity: Father, Son and Spirit, who exist, first and foremost, in relationship with one another. Again, the Catechism puts it this way: "the Christian family is a communion of persons, a sign and image of the communion of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit...The family is the community in which, from childhood, one can learn moral values, begin to honor God, and make good use of freedom. Family life is an initiation into life in society." (#2207)
Perhaps one of the most visible of all of the signs of the love present in a family is a mutual respect by all of its members for one another: parents for their children, children for their parents, and husbands and wives for each other. The catechism advises that "parents must regard their children as children of God and respect them as human persons." (#2222) Using Sirach's admonitions to grown children to care for their elderly parents, the catechism points out that "Respect for parents derives from gratitude toward those who, by the gift of life, their love and their work, have brought their children into the world and enabled them to grow in stature, wisdom, and grace." (#2215) (1)
Of course, no marriage can survive if a husband and wife do not have a mutual respect for one another. Inasmuch as we have discussed the fourth of the ten commandments at length, perhaps it would be appropriate to mention one writer's humourous view of the ten commandments which should govern the relationship of a husband and wife in marriage.
1. Thou shalt not wrap thy husband's sandwiches in magazine articles about a man's responsibility to love his wife. 2. Thou shalt not leave Scripture verses about submission tied to thy wife's hair dryer. 3. If thou teachest Sunday School, thou shalt not use thy spouse's shortcomings as lesson illustrations. 4. Compare not thy spouse with the spouse of another, lest thou also be compared and found wanting. 5. Thou shalt help with tasks thou thinkest are not thine, lest they become thine alone. 6. Thou shalt not use the excuse "This is just the way I am" to keep from becoming what thou couldst and shouldst be. 7. Thou shalt not say, "You always!" or "You never!" when thou speakest with thy spouse. 8. Thou shall impress upon thy children the strengths, and not the weaknesses of thy spouse. 9. Thou shalt spend thy money building memories instead of buying things. 10. Thou shall pray together each and every day so that thou shalt stay together until thy hair grayeth upon thy heads. (2)
In today's gospel passage we heard Luke's narrative of the incident when Jesus was left behind in the temple. Now a Jewish boy became a man when he was twelve years of age at which time he became a "son of the law" (bar mitzvah) and had to take the obligations of the law upon him. So it would be entirely natural for him to be in the temple at this time in his life. We also have to realize that his being left behind by his parents was not neglect, but a simple oversight. Usually the women in a caravan started out much earlier than the men because they traveled more slowly. The men started later and traveled faster and the two sections would not meet until the evening encampment was reached.
Now it was the custom during the Passover for the Sanhedrin to meet in public in the Temple court to discuss, in the presence of all who would listen, religious and theological questions and it was there that his parents found Jesus. We must not think of it as a scene where a precocious boy was dominating a crowd of his seniors. Hearing and asking questions is the regular Jewish phrase for a student learning from his teachers. Jesus was listening to the discussions and eagerly searching for knowledge like an avid student. (3) Luke concludes his narrative by saying that Jesus returned with them to Nazareth and was obedient to them.
I would like to close with a couple of verses from a hymn called "Once In Royal David's City" which I believe crystalizes what the feast of the Holy Family is all about.
And through all his wondrous childhood he would honor and obey, Love and watch the lowly maiden in whose gentle arms he lay. Christian children all must be mild, obedient, good as he.
At first blush, this verse seems to admonish the children in every Christian family to obey their parents just as Jesus obeyed Joseph and Mary. But we have to realize that we are all God's children and this verse is telling all of us to obey our heavenly Father, as his Son has shown us in his own life.
For he is our childhood's pattern, day by day like us he grew; He was little, weak and helpless, tears and smiles like us he knew. And he feeleth for our sadness and he shareth in our gladness. (4)
This is the crux of the matter: Jesus became one like us in every stage of our existence from infancy to death. He could have just appeared one day in the desert and began teaching just as he ultimately did. But he chose to grow day by day, just as we do. He knew joy and sorrow, just as we do. And thus he can empathize with us in both our gladness and in our sadness.
The importance of the human family in human development and in society cannot be overemphasized. Much of the degradation of moral standards and the basic disregard for the value of human life which are so apparent in today's society can be traced to the decline in family values and the explosion of single-parent households. And invariably the evils of murder, abuse and all sorts of crime have their root in one cause: a lack of love during one's formative years. As we proceed in our journey through this Christmas season, the church reminds us of the importance of the human family, a family which should reflect its origins in the Divine Family of the Trinity. Therefore, we must strive to imitate this family to the best of our ability: with love, mutual respect, obedience, kindness and forgiveness for one another. Then we will all surely become members of the family of God and his adopted children.
1. Catechism: #'s 2197-2233 (The Christian Family) & 1655-1658 (The Church as family). United States Catholic Conference, Washington, DC: 1994. [As recommended in A Homily Sourcebook (The Universal Catechism), by N. Abeyasingha. The Pastoral Press, Washington, D.C.: 1993.] 2. From A Time to Remember, by William J. Bausch. From More Telling Stories, Compelling Stories, pp. 148-151. Twenty-third Publications, Mystic, Ct. 06355: 1993. 3. The Dawning Realization. From The Gospel of Luke, by William Barclay. Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, Kentucky. 1975. 4. Once In Royal David's City. Words by C. F. Alexander, music by H. J. Gauntlett. (Copyright December 22, 1997 by the Spirit through Deacon Sil Galvan, with a little help from the friends noted above.) (Additional resources at http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/1383)
Go To the Table of Contents Penitential Rite:
Lord Jesus, you became one like us to share in our joys and sorrows. Lord, have mercy. Christ Jesus, you became obedient to Joseph and Mary as an example to us. Christ, have mercy. Lord Jesus, with the words you spoke to John from the cross "Son, behold your mother", you cared for Mary, your mother, to the end. Lord, have mercy.
Go To the Table of Contents Prayers of the Faithful
Celebrant: Through the sacrifice of Jesus, our Lord and brother, we have become adopted sons and daughters of God. Therefore, as faithful members of the family of God, we bring our needs to the Father.
Deacon/Lector: Our response is "Lord, hear our prayer." That the members of the Church, God's extended family on earth, may care for the needs of one another, we pray to the Lord. That all of our families may imitate the Holy Family in their mutual love and respect for one another, we pray to the Lord. That the lonely, the sorrowful and the grieving may find consolation by laying their cares at the feet of the Child Jesus, we pray to the Lord. That we will joyfully proclaim and live our faith in Christ the Word who was born of the Virgin Mary, we pray to the Lord. That Jesus may welcome all of the members of our families into their eternal home in heaven, we pray to the Lord. For all of the intentions which God knows are in our hearts and which we recall in silence. (Pause) For all of these intentions, we pray to the Lord.
Celebrant: O gracious God, your Son became one like us to give us an example of obedience and love for his earthly parents and for his heavenly Father. Teach us to live lives of love and respect for one another and thus prove our love for Christ, our brother. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Deacon Sil Galvan Copyright