The Shining Example of the Holy Family

Sunday Gospel Reflection
Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph
Luke 2:22-40 | December 31, 2023

The Shining Example of the Holy Family
Marj B.
Ministry of Lectors and Commentators

Today, on this sacred Feast of the Holy Family of Nazareth, we contemplate the family of the Child Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and St. Joseph as the holiest of families, the model Christian and human family. From our cultural family-centeredness, we reflect on the significance of the family in nurturing and sustaining our faith.

According to the Catechism for Filipino Catholics, the family is described under three aspects: “covenant relationship, domestic Church, and foundation for civil society.” The family’s union is patterned after God’s covenant with His people, characterized by God’s unwavering love and fidelity. This covenant love is essential for creating and sustaining the fundamental community necessary for personal growth and survival. Beyond this, the Christian family is also described as a specific revelation and realization of ecclesial communion. Therefore, it is fittingly referred to as “the domestic Church” or “the Church in the home.” The family is where we practice “the daily Christian virtues of generous self-giving in active charity, in mutual forgiveness and obedience, in prayer and thanksgiving.” Recognized as the “first and vital cell of society,” the family, through its commitment to life through birth and the education of its youth in social virtues, plays a foundational role in grounding and continually nurturing the existence and development of society itself.

In his Angelus message on the Feast of the Holy Family in 2001, Pope St. John Paul II emphasized the sanctity bestowed by the Redeemer of the world on the fundamental institution of the family as his chosen cradle for birth and growth. God wills each one of us to share in His divine life, becoming His people. Although the Gospels speak little of the life of the Holy Family in the years prior to Jesus’ public ministry, the first two chapters of both St. Matthew and St. Luke’s Gospels, the infancy narratives, share crucial moments in the journey of Jesus’ family—Christ’s birth, his naming as Jesus, his circumcision and presentation in the Temple, the family’s flight to Egypt and return to Nazareth, and the finding of Jesus in the Temple. Pope St. John Paul II urged us believers to draw near to the mystery of the Holy Family, pointing out that if we desire a deeper understanding of Jesus’ life and mission, we must observe and listen to this divine model.

In today’s Gospel reading (Luke 2:22-40), we focus on the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, showing Mary and Joseph as devout Jews who faithfully observed the law of the Lord. Mary and Joseph humbly consecrated Jesus to God and offered two young turtledoves or two young pigeons, a gesture reflecting their commitment to religious rituals and their devotion to God’s commandments.

The presentation of Jesus in the Temple came to a highlight when Simeon and Anna recognized him as the promised salvation. It is worth noting that in today’s Gospel passage, St. Luke emphasizes thrice how profoundly religious and attuned to the voice of the Holy Spirit Simeon was. Likewise, Anna was mentioned to have “never left the temple,” worshipping day and night with prayer and fasting. Simeon and Anna were guided by the Holy Spirit to welcome and recognize Jesus. Seeing with their eyes the promised Savior, Simeon and Anna no longer had any expectations.

May we, like Simeon and Anna, recognize the Lord Jesus as we meditate on the Word of God. May we continue to listen to the Holy Spirit who is continuously guiding us to perceive God’s presence with the eyes of faith.

Our day-to-day lives, especially the small acts which no one may even recognize, make present the sacred, hidden Nazareth years of the Holy Family. Amidst the hustle of our daily lives, how can we emulate the virtues of the Holy Family in our own families, making our homes a reflection of the sacred and nurturing environment?

May our contemplation of the Holy Family serve as a source of inspiration for us and other believers to deepen our faith, strengthen our families, and remain attuned to the guidance of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

The Holy Family Prayer

JESUS, Son of God and Son of Mary, bless our family. Graciously inspire in us the unity, peace, and mutual love that you found in your own family in the little town of Nazareth.

MARY, Mother of Jesus and Our Mother, nourish our family with your faith and your love. Keep us close to your Son, Jesus, in all our sorrows and joys.

JOSEPH, Foster-father to Jesus, guardian and spouse of Mary, keep our family safe from harm. Help us in all times of discouragement or anxiety.

HOLY FAMILY OF NAZARETH, make our family one with you. Help us to be instruments of peace. Grant that love, strengthened by grace, may prove mightier than all the weaknesses and trials through which our families sometimes pass. May we always have God at the center of our hearts and homes until we are all one family, happy and at peace in our true home with you. Amen.


Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on reddit
Share on email
Share on print

Read more!