Sunday, December 29, 2013


Often the Church reveals her theology in the pairings of readings for a particular mass. Today we see that the Church is using the phrase Holy Family with a double if not triple meaning.

There is of course the most basic, literal reference to the Holy Family: Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. But if we stop and think about it for a minute we known almost nothing about this family, as a family. Matthew tells us Joseph was a "tekton", artisan, understood usually to refer to one who worked with wood. We have them living in Nazareth. And we are told of the flight to Egypt in today's gospel, and the trip to the temple in Jerusalem, but really nothing of their day to day existence.

For this reason it becomes even more important that Church pairs this gospel with the Sirach reading, and the reading from Colossians extending the title Holy Family, not just to individual Christian households but to the Church.

As we bring this year to a close and prepare to begin a new year, the Feast of the Holy Family reminds us that with God as Father and Mary as Mother, we are not only called to be the Holy Family but we have within our hands the ability to do it. Empowered by the grace we receive in the sacraments we can be a sanctuary, that holy place where people can come and, from the moment they walk through the doors, know that they are home.

It would be nice if everyone lived in loving families but that is often not the case. And even many very loving families are still racked with disfunction. It is the human condition.

The word church ekklesia means "called apart." On Sundays we are called apart, we are called to step out of the world and into the church, to gather as brothers and sisters of the same father and mother. For an hour each week, we gather to worship, to praise, and in the Eucharist to have our holiness renewed. We gather as the holy family of God.

Hopefully, we carry that grace home with us, and each of our homes is transformed in a domestic church. Hopefully we strive to live as holy families. But even if you "live alone", God your father, Mary your mother, and Jesus your brother are always there with you. Just as we hang pictures of our earthly family members, we have pictures of our heavenly family.

Today's feast is about so much more than three people 2000 years ago, it is a reminder that we are all adopted children—adopted into the greatest family in the history of the world, the Holy Family of God.