FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY OF JESUS, MARY AND JOSEPH (homily)
Today, we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family by inviting families to live as one holy family in both harmony and peace. Our Church dedicates this feast at the end of the year for families to look at how we have journeyed and moved as a family in the last one year. The reason for this feast, is also to show the importance of family obligations, relationships and holiness as the basic unit of Christian life and living.
One of the important Hindu philosophies taught that one is to love and honour their first four instructors in one’s life; which are – “மாதா (matha), பிதா (pitha), குரு (guru), தெய்வம் (thaivam).” In English the phrase translates to mother, father, teacher and God. To honour mother and father have come first in their teachings whereas in Christianity, only the Fourth Commandment speaks about honouring father and mother. In any case, I have always emphasised to our children in Catechism to strictly observe this Fourth Commandment in their lives.
The author of the book of Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) also reminds us that it is not only for children but the commandment is also applicable to us as adults, to honour our parents. Every one of us must be obedient, revere and give a-due respect to our parents and even the elderly folks. The author also promises that “long life comes to anyone who honour” (Sir 3:6) father and mother. We need to show our tender, love and care for our parents and our children will definitely imitate the example as they grow up and mature up, with more love and care. If we do not treat our parents well, surely the same treatment shall be rendered by the young ones to us.
When we are obligated in carrying out our duties and responsibilities, then graces will be given to us. Let us learn to be more compassionate, kind and patient towards our parents and which would strengthen our family relationships. As head of our families, we need to guide our children with the Word of God and carefully observe especially the Fourth Commandment as the book Proverb says, “Give a lad a training suitable to his character and, even when old, he will not go back on it,” (Pro 22: 6). When we, as parents, do not read the Word of God and observe God’s commandments, then how are we going to train and teach our children the Christian way of life. It is the responsibility of parents to live out their faith with reverence and respect for God and train their children the way of God. In turn surely, they will grow gracefully in maturity, wisdom and age (cf. Lk 2:40).
In the Gospel (Lk 2: 22-40), Jesus shows His obedience to His earthly parents – Mary and Joseph – which comes from His obedience to the will of the Father. Jesus grew up in a family and He would have faced all kinds of challenges in many ways like our own children go through in their lives at home, in school, college and work place. We just hope that they do not get influenced by the secular world and walk into the wrong direction of their lives.
To enjoy God’s favour and His blessing, we need to place Jesus as the head of our families so that we become more loving, intimate, forgiving and understanding in our relationships. Let us ensure that our families enjoy God’s favour and His blessing as we imitate the Holy Family of Nazareth and nurture within ourselves, the holiness in each one of us and of our families.
Rev. Fr. George Packiasamy