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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Holy Family (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 day came for the purification according to the law of Moses, they brought the baby up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, as it is written in the law of the Lord: Every firstborn male shall be consecrated to God. And they offered a sacrifice as ordered in the law of the Lord: a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.

There lived in Jerusalem at this time a very upright and devout man named Simeon; the Holy Spirit was in him. He looked forward to the time when the Lord would comfort Israel, and he had been assured by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before seeing the Messiah of the Lord. So he was led into the Temple by the Holy Spirit at the time the parents brought the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law. Simeon took the child in his arms and blessed God, saying, «Now, O Lord, you can dismiss your servant in peace, for you have fulfilled your word and my eyes have seen your salvation, which you display for all the people to see. Here is the light you will reveal to the nations and the glory of your people Israel». His father and mother wondered at what was said about the child. Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother, «See him; he will be for the rise or fall of the multitudes of Israel. He shall stand as a sign of contradiction, while a sword will pierce your own soul. Then the secret thoughts of many may be brought to light».

There was also a prophetess named Anna, daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. After leaving her father's home, she had been seven years with her husband, and since then she had been continually about the Temple, serving God as a widow night and day in fasting and prayer. She was now eighty-four. Coming up at that time, she gave praise to God and spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem. When the parents had fulfilled all that was required by the law of the Lord, they returned to their town, Nazareth in Galilee. There the child grew in stature and strength and was filled with wisdom: the grace of God was upon him.

«They brought the baby 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 instinctively goes to the middle of the manger —Jesus— to look at Mary and Joseph. The eternal Son of the Father goes from the eternal Family, which is the Holy Trinity, forward to the worldly family formed by Mary and Joseph. How important must the family be in the eyes of God, when the first thing God provides His Son with, is a family!

In his apostolic letter The Rosary of the Virgin Mary, John Paul II has again emphasized that the family is of paramount importance as the foundation of the Church and of the human society, and he asks us to pray for the family while encouraging the daily recitation of the Holy Rosary within the family to revivify this institution. If the family goes well, the society and the Church will go well too.

The Gospel tells us that the child grew in stature and strength and that he was filled with wisdom. Jesus found the warmth of a family built up in their reciprocal love relationship. It would be so beautiful and profitable our trying as hard as possible to build up our own family: with spirit of service and prayer; with mutual loving; with a greater capacity to understand and forgive. We would have a taste of Heaven —as in the Nazareth home— down here! Today, one of the most urgent tasks we have is to build up our family. As the Second Vatican Council reminded us, the parents ought to have an irreplaceable role: «It is the duty of parents to create a family ambiance animated by love and piety towards God and towards men, that favors the total personal and social education of the sons». In the family we learn what is most important, i.e. to be persons.

Finally, to speak with Christians about the family is to speak of the Church. Evangelist Luke tells us that Jesus' parents brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. That offering was the representation of Jesus' sacrificial offering to his Father, from the fruit of which Christians are born. To consider this joyous reality will open us to a greater fraternity and to loving more the Church.