-27th December, THE HOLY FAMILY OF JESUS, MARY AND JOSEPH – CYCLE C

Reflections for December are by Bishop Burchell McPherson, Bishop of Montego Bay, Jamaica

Samuel 1:20-22, 24-28; St. John 3: 1-2, 21-24; Luke 2: 41-52

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, which we are celebrating today is the last liturgical Feast of this calendar year. At the heart of the three readings is the family with special emphasis on children. At this time of year when families are re-united and as we celebrate The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, we reflect on what it is to be a family. The family is the basic unit of our society and the Church. It is in the family that we first learn to communicate, and that we learn what is good and bad. It is in the family that we learn what love is because it is in the family that we first receive love. It is in the family that we first learn to forgive and to pray. It is in the family that we first learn about God and Jesus and Our Lady.

Today’s First Reading from the First Book of Samuel echoes’ the greatest desire of most families, especially that of the women, to bear a child. Hannah, the wife of Elkanah, did not have a child. She fervently prayed to the Lord, asking His blessing, promising in return to set before the Lord her child to be. The heavenly Father agreed to Hannah’s request and blessed her with a child. Hannah named her son “Samuel” which literally means “Name of God.” Once the child had been weaned, he was taken to the Temple where he was presented with an offering.

Today’s Second reading also speaks of children. In this instance, reference was made to us, as the children of God. We were reminded of the great love that the Father has given us. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believers in Him may not perish but may have eternal life.” [Jn. 3:16] In the truest and most absolute sense, there can be no greater love than this unique love of God.

If our families are to be families reflecting God’s plan for families, then they will also be families that put God first. So every night, pray together as a family. The letter to the Colossians (3:16) says, “Let the message of Christ in all its richness find a home with you.” If faith in God is not what motivates a family, that family is starting with a disadvantage. Put Jesus in the center of your family, “Let the message of Christ in all its richness find a home with you.”

Today’s Gospel reading is a recollection of the event relating to the Boy Jesus in the Temple. As Jewish Law prescribes, the people are required to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for two major feasts: Passover and Tabernacles. At the time of this event, Jesus was still a child. He was twelve years old, a year before the age at which a boy officially reached manhood. When Mary and Joseph found Jesus in the Temple and inquired as to His action that had them worried, Jesus said: “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s business?”

Let us pray: Just as the holy family survived all its crises through love for each other and faith in God, let us hope during this time that our families will conquer all difficulties through love for each other and faith in God.