Christmas and the Feast of the Holy Family

Lectionary Readings:

Saturday, Christmas:

  • Mass for the Vigil: Isaiah 62: 1-5; Acts 13: 16-17, 22-25; Matthew 1:1-25
  • Mass at Midnight: Isaiah 9:1-3, 5-6; Titus 2: 11-14; Luke 2: 1-14
  • Mass at Dawn: Isaiah 62: 11-12; Titus 3: 4-7; Luke 2: 15-20
  • Mass during the Day: Isaiah 52: 7-10; Hebrews 1: 1-6; John 1: 1-18

Sunday, Feast of the Holy Family:

  • Sirach 3: 2-6, 12-14. Obedience and honor are due to one’s parents, patient consideration especially in their old age when their mind fails.
  • Colossians 3:12-21. We are to clothe ourselves with patience, humility, kindness and especially forgiveness within our families.
  • Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23. The Holy Family fled into Egypt but at the death of Herod the Great the settled in Nazareth. Matthew sees the fulfillment of many prophesies.

Thoughts for Your Consideration: By John Gonzalez

Saturday, Christmas:

The Mass celebrating Christmas offers you four different Scripture passage relating the Christmas event. The vigil will offer you a genealogy of Jesus. At the midnight Mass Luke will remind us of the historical birth of Jesus placing his birth in the context of the Roman Empire. At the dawn Mass however we hear about the humble birth of Jesus through the interaction of shepherds. Finally, during the day, we will hear from John about the cosmological aspect of Jesus birth as the Word that was made flesh.

Each story offers a different emphasis, but the focus is the same. Now, at Christmas, we celebrate the moment when God breaks into human history through the incarnation of God and humanity that is Jesus Christ. It is not enough for us to treat Jesus as a moral exemplar or a great teacher. Nor can Jesus be used to sow division and dissension within the human family. Jesus is the way through which all of humanity is reconciled with God. Through Jesus we are given a glimpse of our own human dignity. A special dignity we have as children of God but a dignity we can barely comprehend. So it is that through Jesus we see the full meaning of that dignity: a dignity that brings healing and compassion, a dignity that challenges society to its very core, a dignity that can ultimately defeat even death.   

 Matthew will describe the human origins of Jesus while John describes the divinity of Christ. But Luke will tell us how in the midst of the great Imperial reign of Augustus Caesar the birth of the incarnate one will take place in the humblest of places and celebrated by the poor and the meek. Here in one of the greatest celebrations we have in the Christian Calendar we are reminded of God’s own preferential option for the poor as a fitting place to intimately engage with humanity.           

Sunday, Feast of the Holy Family:

In 2008 Pope Benedict XVI dedicated the World Day of Peace message to “The Human Family, a Community of Peace.” In this message the Holy Father makes that point that the pursuit of Justice and Peace truly begins at home:

Indeed, in a healthy family life we experience some of the fundamental elements of peace: justice and love between brothers and sisters, the role of authority expressed by parents, loving concern for the members who are weaker because of youth, sickness or old age, mutual help in the necessities of life, readiness to accept others and, if necessary, to forgive them. For this reason, the family is the first and indispensable teacher of peace. – #3

The readings for this Sunday by Sirach and Paul declare the same position. The Epistle to the Colossians remind the early Christians to demonstrate the virtues of “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience” to the family and to one another. In the first two reading Paul and Sirach are both saying a message that is repeated by Pope Benedict XVI in his 2008 message, “Humanity is one great family.” We are called to be a living witness of these virtues to one and all but if we cannot demonstrate these virtues to our own actual family who we relate with on a daily basis how can we hope to demonstrate these virtues to our extended family who we barely know.

The Holy Family becomes our model of living these virtues first and foremost within this most basic social unit that is the family. During the Feast of the Holy Family we are given three traumatic events in the history of the Holy Family where they had to exhibit these virtues of patience, humility and compassion in the midst of persecution and suffering. This year we are told the story of their flight into Egypt as a result of the persecution of Herod the Great. Here Joseph demonstrates humility and faith in God by uprooting his family and trusting in the Lord as they migrate to a foreign land. We get the sense that the family is patient and gentle to one another as they step into the unknown as migrants and settlers who are forced to leave their home.  Their social suffering does not end even after the death of Herod the Great but they work together as a strong unit that is ever faithful to God and each other.


About jdgonzo73

I am a Catholic lay minister in the field of Christian ethics, Latino theology and Paulacrucian spirituality. I am currently a Doctor of Ministry student at Fordham, an ad-junct professor at Molloy College and St. John's University and the Project Coordinator with the Catholic Roundtable.
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