Feast of the Holy Family (C)
December 26, 2021
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.







O God, who were pleased to give us
the shining example of the Holy Family,
graciously grant that we may imitate them
in practicing the virtues of family life and in the bonds of charity,
and so, in the joy of your house,
delight one day in eternal rewards.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen.

First Reading 1 Sm 1:20,24-28

In those days Hannah conceived, and at the end of her term bore a son
whom she called Samuel, since she had asked the LORD for him.
The next time her husband Elkanah was going up
with the rest of his household
to offer the customary sacrifice to the LORD and to fulfill his vows,
Hannah did not go, explaining to her husband,
“Once the child is weaned,
I will take him to appear before the LORD
and to remain there forever;
I will offer him as a perpetual nazirite.”

Once Samuel was weaned, Hannah brought him up with her,
along with a three-year-old bull,
an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine,
and presented him at the temple of the LORD in Shiloh.
After the boy’s father had sacrificed the young bull,
Hannah, his mother, approached Eli and said:
“Pardon, my lord!
As you live, my lord,
I am the woman who stood near you here, praying to the LORD.
I prayed for this child, and the LORD granted my request.
Now I, in turn, give him to the LORD;
as long as he lives, he shall be dedicated to the LORD.”
Hannah left Samuel there.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 84:2-3,5-6,9-10


R/. Blessed are they who dwell in your house, O Lord.

How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts!
My soul yearns and pines for the courts of the LORD.
My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

Happy they who dwell in your house!
Continually they praise you.
Happy the men whose strength you are!
Their hearts are set upon the pilgrimage.

O LORD of hosts, hear our prayer;
hearken, O God of Jacob!
O God, behold our shield,
and look upon the face of your anointed.

Second Reading 1 Jn 3:1-2,21-24

See what love the Father has bestowed on us
that we may be called the children of God.
And so we are.
The reason the world does not know us
is that it did not know him.
Beloved, we are God’s children now;
what we shall be has not yet been revealed.
We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him,
for we shall see him as he is.

Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us,
we have confidence in God and receive from him whatever we ask,
because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.
And his commandment is this:
we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ,
and love one another just as he commanded us.
Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them,
and the way we know that he remains in us
is from the Spirit he gave us.


Gospel Lk 2:41-52

Each year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the feast
of Passover,
and when he was twelve years old,
they went up according to festival custom.
After they had completed its days, as they were returning,
the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem,
but his parents did not know it.
Thinking that he was in the caravan,
they journeyed for a day
and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances,
but not finding him,
they returned to Jerusalem to look for him.
After three days they found him in the temple,
sitting in the midst of the teachers,
listening to them and asking them questions,
and all who heard him were astounded
at his understanding and his answers.
When his parents saw him,
they were astonished,
and his mother said to him,
“Son, why have you done this to us?
Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”
And he said to them,
“Why were you looking for me?
Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
But they did not understand what he said to them.
He went down with them and came to Nazareth,
and was obedient to them;
and his mother kept all these things in her heart.
And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor
before God and man.

Reflection Questions

  1. What does “dedication to the Lord” mean for you?
  2. What does it mean for you to be a child of God?
  3. How have you “advanced in wisdom and age and favor?”

Catena Nova

We are told that Moses has asked God questions and that God has answered him. So, we need to listen to Jesus and let him put questions to us, perhaps one’s we can’t answer. Maybe we want to know in which group of people he is found right now and with whom we can learn his way. This has to be done all the time, and not in a passing or occasional way. You can never find where Jesus waits for you if you act like that. Mary said, when she found him, “We have been looking anxiously for you!”, but he answered, “Didn’t you know I would have to be in my Father’s House”? Try to be as concerned to find Jesus that Joseph and Mary were. Keep looking for those who teach the way to God and always try to live like Jesus. (Origen of Alexandria)

The Word of God, born once for all in Bethlehem, according to the flesh, is born anew at every instant according to the Spirit. He is born anew to all those who long for him. You see, he delights in goodness and humaneness and so he became a little child to clothe himself in just these qualities. He knows that all can accept one who is good and humane and thus seeks to free us from every trace of ill-will or aversion. He is taking the measure of those who long for Him.... The great mystery of the divine incarnation remains a mystery forever. How can the Word truly and substantially exist in human flesh, while at the same time his whole being is with the Father? How can that same Word, who is wholly divine by nature, have become completely human without in any way disowning either his divine nature, in which he subsists as God, or our nature in which he was made human? Only faith can perceive the truth of these mysteries. They themselves are truly the essence and foundation of truths which surpass what the mind can either see or understand. And this faith has been given us! And from this gift springs that love which binds us to our God and leads us to serve and love one another. What a marvelous exchange! (St. Maximus the Confessor)

He who is without flesh becomes incarnate; the Word puts on a body; the Invisible is seen; by whom no hand can touch is handled; the Timeless has a beginning; the Son of God becomes Son of Man - Jesus Christ, the same yesterday today and for ever. … O strange conjunction! The Self-existent comes into being; the Uncreated is created. He shares in the poverty of my flesh, that I may share in the riches of his Godhead. (St. Gregory Nazianzen)

 The Mother of God

The three-fold terror of love: a fallen flare

Through the hollow of an ear;

Wings beating about the room

The terror of all terrors that I bore

The Heavens in my womb.

Had I not found content among the shows

Every common woman knows,

Chimney corner, garden walk,

Or rocky cistern where we tread the clothes

And gather all the talk?

What is this flesh I purchased with my pains,

This fallen star my milk sustains,

This love that makes my heart's blood stop

Or strikes a sudden chill into my bones

And bids my hair stand up? (William Butler Yeats)

Jesus, we are told, was obedient to Joseph and Mary, and yet suddenly he is off to the Temple learning from the rabbis teaching there. He not only answered their questions, as was expected, but asked them question, which was not expected. And he did all this without asking permission from his parents. They were upset when they found him. But he wasn’t repentant. Yet he followed them back to Nazareth and resumed his obedience. Our ordinary behavior is like a fine line and if we step off it we enter the new and unfamiliar. There are mysteries, not only in God but in each of us. There are potentials for newness in us that God will bring out, and in them lie gifts that we can share with others, if they are willing to accept that there are depths hidden within us to enrich lives and perhaps even change our society and culture. It is part of what Scripture calls “the mystery hidden from ages past but now revealed to God’s holy ones”. Can you accept and believe that truth God tells us? It seems that in practicing ordinary community virtues like forgiveness and patience we are doing more than overlooking others’ faults or giving them a second chance, as we say. Like Mary we keep what surprises us in our heart and reflect on what God may be leading us to that is new. There are wonders we do not grasp hidden in spouses, children, neighbors and friends. Today these are presented as mysteries hidden in “family life”. Today’s liturgy points this out to us and calls us to accept God’s design for human life that makes all this happen. We have to accept this about ourselves as much as about others. Are you willing to live the mysteries God has hidden, like precious pearls or treasures in a field, so that we can disclose not only old things but new ones, and realize they lead us to God? (Fr. Carroll Stuhlmueller)

The typological relationship between the finding of the child Jesus in the Temple and His paschal mystery has not been investigated adequately, if at all. Nevertheless, the parallels between them suggest a particularly close bond. Both events occur at Jerusalem at the time of the Passover. The Holy Child is in the Temple, three days hidden and lost to the sight of His mother and foster father, who fear that He may be dead. Christ is three days in the tomb, hidden and lost to His disciples, His family in grace, who know without doubt He is dead. After three days, the Child will be found in the Temple, while after three days Jesus will be found once again in the temple of his body (Jn 2:19-22). The Child will be found near the place of the figurative sacrifices of the Old Covenant, while Christ will be found near the place of the definitive, archetypal sacrifice of the Cross, for “there was in the place where he was crucified a garden: and in the garden a new sepulchre” (Jn 19:41), in which He was buried. When Mary and Joseph find the child Jesus at last, His mother asks, “Son, why hast thou done this to us? Behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing” (Lk 2:48) and the Christ Child answers, “How is it that you have sought me?” (Lk 2:49).  The angel’s response to the women who come mourning to the tomb and who will later find the resurrected Jesus is the same, “Why seek you the living with the dead” (Lk 24:5). For, as the Child explains, “Did you not know that I must be about my father’s business?” (Lk 2:49). Now the Father’s business, which is given into the hands of the Son (Jn 3:35; 13:3; 16:15), is nothing other than judging and the giving of life to the dead (Jn 5:17-30) – and the Father is always working, and likewise the Son, even on the Sabbath made for man (Jn 5:17-18; Mk 2:27-28....). Thus the Christ Child teaches in the Temple with the authority of His wisdom, and the light of His doctrine shines upon those still dead in ignorance and sin (Fr. Hans Urs von Balthasar).

In the Holy Family, astonishment never failed! To feel astonishment is the opposite of taking everything for granted… It means opening ourselves to others. This attitude is important for mending compromised relationships and curing the open wounds within the family. The anxiety felt by Mary and Joseph, shows the centrality of Jesus in the Holy Family. And so we see, why the family of Nazareth is holy – because it was centred on Jesus, all the attention and care of Joseph revolved around Him. The anxiety felt by Mary and Joseph, when Jesus was lost for three days, should also be our anxiety, when we are far from Jesus, when we forget Jesus, going without prayer, without reading the Gospel for several days. Mary and Joseph found Jesus in the Temple and we too, should seek Jesus in the house of God – and especially, in the Liturgy, where we have the living experience of Jesus, in His Word and in the Eucharist, from which we receive the strength to face the difficulties of each day (Pope Francis).


Family Matters

            Leaving home: the first day of school, going off to college, getting married, moving away--all  of  them wrenching times when we leave the nest, sometimes willing, sometimes not, so we can learn to fly on our own.  The Lord Jesus, too, at the age of twelve, began his separation from Joseph and Mary, and his life at Nazareth, to engage his mission and destiny.

            And he went about his Father’s business as the Child of parents without peer.  As with all of us, that altogether unique parent-child relationship formed the basis of Christ’s self-image, setting the stage for how we would relate to every other man and woman he met in the course of his life, including how he related to God.

            I’ve often thought, for instance, how Jesus’ relationship with God must have been deeply influenced by Joseph--the first person the Lord called Abba, “Father.”  When he taught others they too could have such a relationship with the Divine – that we may be called the children of God (II) –somewhere in the background, no doubt, was the figure and example of St. Joseph.  Pope Francis, in his apostolic letter on Joseph notes how in him, “Jesus saw the tender love of God.... In his relationship to Jesus, Joseph was the earthly shadow of the heavenly Father: he watched over him and protected him, never leaving him to go his own way” (Patris corde).

            As for the influence of Mary on her Son, I cannot help thinking how Jesus’ sensitivity and compassion toward women -- especially marginalized women-- must have its origin in his relationship with Mary who, after all, bore reproach and suspicion due to her irregular pregnancy.  I think especially of  Jesus’ reaction to the woman caught in adultery.  His inclusion of women as disciples – Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna -- women who followed him during his public ministry and who like Magdalen, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome, would be the first witnesses of the resurrection, surely have the Woman of Nazareth as their prototype.

            Now, obviously, the influence of parental relationships is not always so ideal.   One area where parents could fail their children is when they either try to live their own lives through their children, or – somewhat worse – their own unlived lives.  Here again Pope Francis said something about St.  Joseph that I think is relevant:

When fathers refuse to live the lives of their children for them, new and unexpected vistas open up. Every child is the bearer of a unique mystery that can only be brought to light with the help of a father who respects that child’s freedom. A father who realizes that he is most a father and educator at the point when he becomes “useless”, when he sees that his child has become independent and can walk the paths of life unaccompanied. When he becomes like Joseph, who always knew that his child was not his own but had merely been entrusted to his care (op cit.).

            Mind you, I think the same  goes for mothers.  We see it today’s gospel as well.  Even if they did not understand what [Jesus] said to them, Mary continued to keep all these things in her heart (cf. G).  She was willing to reflect on all that transpired since the birth of her Child and when the time came, give him leave from the artisan’s shop in Nazareth to embark on a journey that would lead to her standing beneath the cross.  I doubt if she could have done so without her also realizing her Child was not her own.

            I’ll never forget the day I announced at the dinner table I was going to the seminary after high school.  My mother ran upstairs crying, leaving me and my father alone.  “What’s wrong with her?” I said.  “She thinks she’ll never see you again,” I was told.  I knew then I had some leave-taking to do, but to their credit my parents never once stood in the way.

            We see something of that in the story of Hannah and her son Samuel, don’t we?  Though unable to have a child for a long time, her prayer was finally answered.  And rather unbelievably, she was prepared  to offer him...[giving[ him to the LORD (I).  And thus she left her son in the temple under the care and tutelage of Eli, thus paving the way for him to become the great prophet he was destined to be.  And while no one would suggest such a thing today, when parents present their children for baptism, dedicating them to the LORD (cf. I), well, they are leaving such children in the hands of God to advance in wisdom and age and favor before God and others (cf. G) as Jesus did under the care and tutelage of Mary and Joseph.  And no one can say on that day what will become of them, can they?

            Hopefully, these children will have parents who are willing to “lose” them, as Christ was lost in the temple for three days.  And if you are bewildered, as Joseph and Mary were, at their Son’s behavior, know you’re in good company.  Indeed, you have the shining example of the Holy Family (Collect) to guide you, so that, after the trials of this world, we may share their company for ever. (Prayer after Communion).


Intercessions (Cf. Archdiocese of Adelaide)

Sisters and brothers, God’s Son entered our world through a family, a family which knew love and unity as well as anxiety and danger, and so is understanding of family life today.

For the family of the Church: that united with Pope Francis we will always trust in the Father’s will, walk the way of Jesus and be attentive to the wisdom on the Holy Spirit.

For the family of Nations: that it will put aside the weapons of war and violence, and the ways of lies and corruption,  and seek peace and the good of all.

For our own families: that across the generations, we will give thanks for each other, and stand together when there are difficulties and tensions, as did Joseph and Mary with the child Jesus.

For families impacted by the coronavirus pandemic: that where there is sickness and grief, unemployment, mental stress and poverty, we will discover a new spirit of fraternity by which we care for and respect each other.

For families separated by religious persecution, war, terrorism, economic difficulties or the Covid pandemic, that faith will give purpose, hope sustain each person, and love unite all humanity.

For the departed members of our families and communities, that as we remember them with gratitude  they will enter the pure light of Jesus Christ and live in the Communion of Saints forever.

As your sons and daughters, O loving God, we come before you in thanksgiving, called and united by your eternal Word. Teach us to ponder the mystery of Nazareth, that we may always find in you the source of our strength and the unity of our families. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen. (ICEL; 1998)



There is a flower sprung from a tree,
The root thereof is called Jesse,
A flower of great worth;
There is no other such in paradise.

This flower is fair and fresh of hue;
It fades never, but ever is new;
The blessed branch where this flower grew
Was Mary mild who bore Jesu —
A flower of grace,
Against all sorrow it is solace.

The seed thereof was of God's sending,
Which God himself sowed with his hand;
In Bethlehem, in that holy land,
Within her garden he found her there.
This blessed flower
Sprang never but in Mary's bower.

When Gabriel this maiden met,
With "Ave, Maria," he her greeted
Between them two this flower was set,
And was kept, no man should know it,
Until one day
In Bethlehem, it began to spread and spray.

When that flower began to spread,
And his blossom to bud,
Rich and poor of every seed, [i.e. kind]
They marvelled how this flower might spread,
Until kings three
That blessed flower came to see.

Angels there came out of their tower
To look upon this fresh flower —
How fair he was in his colour,
And how sweet in his savour —
And to behold
How such a flower might spring amid the cold.

Of lily, of rose on branch,
Of primrose, and of fleur-de-lys,
Of all the flowers I can think of,
That flower of Jesse yet bears the prize,
As the best remedy
To ease our sorrows in every part.

I pray you, flowers of this country, [i.e. women]
Wherever ye go, wherever ye be,
Hold up the flower of good Jesse,
Above your freshness and your beauty,
As fairest of all,
Which ever was and ever shall be.

Communion Antiphon


Closing Hymn

Good people all, this Christmas time,
Consider well and bear in mind
What our good God for us has done
In sending his beloved son

With Mary holy we should pray,
To God with love this Christmas Day
In Bethlehem upon that morn,
There was a blessed Messiah born.

The night before that happy tide,
The noble Virgin and her guide
Were long time seeking up and down
To find a lodging in the town.

But mark how all things came to pass
From every door repelled, alas,
As was foretold, their refuge all
Was but a humble ox’s stall.

Near Bethlehem did shepherds keep
Their flocks of lambs and feeding sheep
To whom God’s angels did appear
Which put the shepherds in great fear

Prepare and go, the angels said
To Bethlehem, be not afraid
For there you’ll find, this happy morn
A princely babe, sweet Jesus, born.

With thankful heart and joyful mind
The shepherds went the babe to find
And as God’s angel had foretold
They did our Saviour Christ behold

Within a manger he was laid
And by his side the virgin maid
Attending on the Lord of Life
Who came on earth to end all strife.

There were three wise men from afar
Directed by a glorious star
And on they wandered night and day
Until they came where Jesus lay

And when they came unto that place
Where our beloved Messiah lay
They humbly cast them at his feet
With gifts of gold and incense sweet.