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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Feast of The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (B)
1st Reading (Sir 3:3-7.14-17a): God sets a father in honor over his children; a mother's authority he confirms over her sons. Whoever honors his father atones for sins, and preserves himself from them. When he prays, he is heard; he stores up riches who reveres his mother. Whoever honors his father is gladdened by children, and, when he prays, is heard. Whoever reveres his father will live a long life; he who obeys his father 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 of him; revile him not all the days of his life; kindness to a father will not be forgotten, firmly planted against the debt of your sins —a house raised in justice to you.

Or: (Gn 15:1-6; 21:1-3): The word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying: «Fear not, Abram! I am your shield; I will make your reward very great». But Abram said, «O Lord God, what good will your gifts be, if I keep on being childless and have as my heir the steward of my house, Eliezer?». Abram continued, «See, you have given me no offspring, and so one of my servants will be my heir».

Then the word of the Lord came to him: «No, that one shall not be your heir; your own issue shall be your heir». The Lord took Abram outside and said, «Look up at the sky and count the stars, if you can. Just so», he added, «shall your descendants be». Abram put his faith in the Lord, who credited it to him as an act of righteousness.

The Lord took note of Sarah as he had said he would; he did for her as he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time that God had stated. Abraham gave the name Isaac to this son of his whom Sarah bore him.

Responsorial Psalm: 127
R/. Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways.
Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways! For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork; blessed shall you be, and favored.

Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the recesses of your home; your children like olive plants around your table.

Behold, thus is the man blessed who fears the Lord. The Lord bless you from Zion: may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life.

Or: Ps 104
R/ The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.

Give thanks to the Lord, invoke his name; make known among the nations his deeds. Sing to him, sing his praise, proclaim all his wondrous deeds.

Glory in his holy name; rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord! Look to the Lord in his strength; constantly seek his face.

You descendants of Abraham, his servants, sons of Jacob, his chosen ones! He, the Lord, is our God; throughout the earth his judgments prevail.

He remembers forever his covenant which he made binding for a thousand generations which he entered into with Abraham and by his oath to Isaac.
2nd Reading (Col 3:12-21): Brothers and sisters: Put on, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Wives, be subordinate to your husbands, as is proper in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and avoid any bitterness toward them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, so they may not become discouraged.

Or: (Heb 11:8, 11-12, 17-19): Brothers and sisters: By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; he went out, not knowing where he was to go. By faith he received power to generate, even though he was past the normal age —and Sarah herself was sterile— for he thought that the one who had made the promise was trustworthy. So it was that there came forth from one man, himself as good as dead, descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sands on the seashore.

By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was ready to offer his only son, of whom it was said, «Through Isaac descendants shall bear your name». He reasoned that God was able to raise even from the dead, and he received Isaac back as a symbol.
Versicle before the Gospel (Col 3:15a.16a): Alleluia. Let the peace of Christ control your hearts; let the word of Christ dwell in you richly. Alleluia.

Or (Heb 1:1-2): Alleluia. In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, he has spoken to us through the Son. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Lk 2:22-40): When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,” and to offer the sacrifice of “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,” in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying: “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.” The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted —and you yourself a sword will pierce— so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer. And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem. When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.

“They took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord”

Fr. Joan Ant. MATEO i García (Tremp, Lleida, Spain)

Today, we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family. Our gaze shifts from the center of the nativity scene—Jesus—to contemplate Mary and Joseph close to Him. The eternal Son of the Father goes from the eternal family, which is the Holy Trinity, to the earthly family formed by Mary and Joseph. How important the family must be in the eyes of God when the first thing He provides for His Son is a family!

Saint John Paul II, in his Apostolic Letter "Rosarium Virginis Mariae," highlights once again the crucial importance of the family as the foundation of the Church and human society, asking us to pray for families and to pray as a family with the Holy Rosary to revitalize this institution. If the family is doing well, both society and the Church will do well.

The Gospel tells us that the Child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. Jesus found the warmth of a family that was built through their mutual relationships of love. How beautiful and beneficial it would be if we strived more and more to build our family: with a spirit of service and prayer, with mutual love, with a great capacity to understand and forgive. We would taste—like in the home of Nazareth—heaven and earth! Building the family is today one of the most urgent tasks. Parents, as Vatican Council II reminded, play an irreplaceable role here: "Parents are the ones who must create a family atmosphere animated by love and respect for God and man, in which the well-rounded personal and social education of children is fostered." In the family, we learn the most important thing: how to be people.

Finally, to talk about family for Christians is to talk about the Church. The evangelist Saint Luke tells us that Jesus' parents took Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord. That offering was a figure of Jesus' sacrificial offering to the Father, from which Christians are born. Considering this joyful reality will open us to greater fraternity and lead us to love the Church more.

Thoughts on Today's Gospel

  • “Nazareth is the school in which we begin to understand the Gospel. Oh, how We would like to repeat, so close to Mary, our introduction to the genuine knowledge of the meaning of life!.” (Saint Paul VI)

  • “Jesus' family was a family like all others and as such, it is a model of conjugal love, collaboration, sacrifice and entrustment to divine Providence ..., of all those values that the family safeguards and promotes, making an important contribution to forming the fabric of every society.” (Benedict XVI)

  • “The hidden life at Nazareth allows everyone to enter into fellowship with Jesus by the most ordinary events of daily life.” (Catechism Of The Catholic Church, Nº 533)