The Bishops Homily – Feast of the Holy Family 2017

Feast of the Holy Family 
Cycle B | 31/12/17
Sir. 3: 2-5; 12-14
Col. 3: 12-21
Lk. 2: 22-40

INTRODUCTION: “God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church) God needs nothing — the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit live a life of utter love and happiness. Yet, for our sake, the Triune God created us that we might learn to know and love him and ultimately share in his happiness. We are baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Christian life is ultimately one of sharing the love of the Father and the Son which is poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. Today’s Feast reminds us of this sharing of love among the three Divine Persons realized in the Holy Family.

(1) The Holy Family is a model for living the Christian Life. Joseph and Mary offers an extraordinary witness to spousal love and parental care. Though called to live out their married love in an unusual way, the marriage of Mary and Joseph reminds us that the ultimate aim of marriage is joy in the heavenly household of God, reflected in the joy of the earthly home. Joseph and May allowed their love to be bound by God’s love. “And the Word was made flesh” — a boy that became the center of their lives. In Jesus, the joy of God’s Household also entered the house of Mary and Joseph and yet this Joy has nowhere to lay his head. From the moment the angel appeared to them, their lives was turned upside down. Mary who intended to be totally consecrated to God became a virgin-mother. Joseph’s hope for an ordinary marriage and family had to give way to the marvelous plan God had decreed for him.

(2)  Medieval Art depicts Joseph tearing up his stockings as Mary holds the newborn child. In their utter poverty, both of them did not even have even swaddling clothes to wrap him. So the Carpenter crafts an improvised solution from his own clothing. The mother gives her very flesh to bring the Christ into the world, while the Foster Father gives only his clothing and yet each one gives all they have.

(3) Sirach’s saying “The Lord sets a Father in honor over his children; a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons” (3:2) hints at this paradox “though the Son was in the form of God, he took on the form of a servant.” (Phil. 2: 6-7) The Son of God who created and sustains Joseph and Mary submits himself to their authority Through this human obedience, he anticipates his ultimate act of obedience to the Father, “Yet not as I will but as you will.” The Designer of the Universe becomes an apprentice in the Carpenter’s Shop. The Word conforms to his Mother’s speech, “Son, why have you done this to us?” (Lk. 2: 47) Sir. 3:3 “Whoever honors his father atones for sin and preserves himself from them.” The Son of God became like us in all things but sin in order to atone for sins. The one who does not need to be preserved from sin, preserves us from slavery to sin.

CONCLUSION: In the Lord’s command, “Do this in memory of me,” we have a foretaste of the Joy in the House of God. Through Jesus, May, and Joseph may our families be strengthened in the bonds of love as a foretaste of the Joy in God’s Household! Amen

Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, DD
Bishop of Novaliches