Feast of the Holy Family -- December 30 (A)
December 30, 2022
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.

 

Introit

 

 

God is in his holy dwelling place; the God who causes us to dwell together, one at heart, in his house; he himself will give power and strength to his people. Ps/. Let God arise; let his foes be scattered. * let those who hate him flee from his presence. As smoke is driven away, so drive them away; † like wax that melts before the fire, * so the wicked shall perish at the presence of God.

Kyrie

Gloria

Collect

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 Sirach 3:2-7, 12-14

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.

Responsorial Psalm 128: 1-2,3,4-5

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.

Gradual

One thing I asked of the Lord, this will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord.  V/. To gaze in delight upon the Lord's beauty and to be sheltered in his holy temple.

Second Reading Colossians 3:12-17

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.  

Gospel Accamation

 

Alleluia

Alleluia. Rejoice in the Lord, O you just.  It is fitting that loyal hearts should praise him.

Gospel Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23

When the magi had departed, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt,
and stay there until I tell you.
Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night
and departed for Egypt.
He stayed there until the death of Herod,
that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled,
Out of Egypt I called my son.

When Herod had died, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream
to Joseph in Egypt and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel,
for those who sought the child’s life are dead.”
He rose, took the child and his mother,
and went to the land of Israel.
But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea
in place of his father Herod,
he was afraid to go back there.
And because he had been warned in a dream,
he departed for the region of Galilee.
He went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth,
so that what had been spoken through the prophets
might be fulfilled,
He shall be called a Nazorean

Reflection Questions

Has care for the elderly played a role in your life?  Have you experienced being a caregiver as both challenge and reward?

Are you experiencing challenges practicing the virtues of heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience?

Has life taken you to unexpected places that now seem as if a dream led you there?

Catena Nova

Strange and wonderful is the mystery I behold. In my ears rings the sound of shepherds, not piping a lonely melody but chanting a heavenly hymn. Angels carol, archangels celebrate with song and dance, the cherubim sing hymns, the seraphim give praise, all of them keeping festival as they contemplate God on earth and our nature in heaven. By divine decree he who dwells on high is now here below; by God’s love those who dwell below are raised on high (St. John Chrysostom)

May esteem for silence, that admirable and indispensable condition of mind, revive in us, besieged as we are by so many uplifted voices, the general noise and uproar, in our seething and over-sensitised modern life. May the silence of Nazareth teach us recollection, inwardness, the disposition to listen to good inspirations and the teachings of true masters. May it teach us the need for and the value of preparation, of study, of meditation, of personal inner life, of the prayer which God alone sees in secret (Pope St. Paul VI).

True love is delicate and kind, full of gentle perception and understanding, full of beauty and grace, full of joy unutterable. There should be some flavor of this in all our love for others. We are all one. We are one flesh in the Mystical Body as man and woman are said to be one flesh in marriage. With such a love one would see all things new; we would begin to see people as they really are, as God sees them. (Dorothy Day)

“A tiny child needs not only food and shelter but something more… much more… a feeling of love, that someone cares for him, ready to die for him, that he is really loved, that he is important… precious. And so he begins to live and begins to sense the value of his being. And so it is that life rises in him and he grows in confidence in himself and in his possibilities of life and of creation.” (Jean Vanier)

Through God's mysterious design, it was in that family that the Son of God spent long years of a hidden life. It is therefore the prototype and example for all Christian families. It was unique in the world. Its life was passed in anonymity and silence in a little town in Palestine. It underwent trials of poverty, persecution and exile. It glorified God in an incomparably exalted and pure way. And it will not fail to help Christian families-indeed, all the families in the world-to be faithful to their day-to-day duties, to bear the cares and tribulations of life, to be open and generous to the needs of others, and to fulfill with joy the plan of God in their regard (Pope St. John Paul II).

It is very important that children learn from their fathers and mothers how to love one another – not in the school, not from the teacher, but from you. It is very important that you share with your children the joy of that smile. There will be misunderstandings; every family has its cross, its suffering. Always be the first to forgive with a smile. Be cheerful, be happy (St. Teresa of Calcutta).

Every family should look to the icon of the Holy Family of Nazareth. Its daily life had its share of burdens and even nightmares, as when they met with Herod’s implacable violence. This last was an experience that, sad to say, continues to afflict the many refugee families who in our day feel rejected and helpless. Like the Magi, our families are invited to contemplate the Child and his Mother, to bow down and worship him (cf. Mt 2:11). Like Mary, they are asked to face their family’s challenges with courage and serenity, in good times and bad, and to keep in their heart the great things which God has done (cf. Lk 2:19, 51). The treasury of Mary’s heart also contains the experiences of every family, which she cherishes. For this reason, she can help us understand the meaning of these experiences and to hear the message God wishes to communicate through the life of our families (Pope Francis).

Homily

Family Matters

            The Way We Never Were.  In the more than three decades since that book was published by author Stephanie Coontz, both a lot and not a lot has happened to the American family.  The book’s cover showed a “typical” scene from the 1950s: dutiful wife in pretty dress; the head of the household in jacket and tie reading his newspaper; two scrubbed and glowing children, surrounding their ideal parents.  But, as the book’s title implies, the author cites some startling facts about real life in the post-war years, leaving no doubt that the picture-perfect family was more fantasy than fact: “I found that,” she wrote more recently, “the male breadwinner family of the 1950s was a very recent, short-lived invention and that during its heyday, rates of poverty, child abuse, marital unhappiness, and domestic violence were actually higher than in the more diverse 1990s” (The New Republic; March 29, 2016). So the way we think we were, we often were not.  In fact, the book’s sub-title is American Families and the Nostalgia Trap.

            Indeed, the nostalgia business is booming.  My favorite cable channel is MeTV which features shows from the “good old days” like the Andy Griffith and Dick van Dyke’s eponymous series.  YouTube is even better where you can watch episodes of Ozzie and Harriet, Father Knows Best, Leave it to Beaver and the Donna Reed Show– all in glorious black and white, much like the worlds they depicted.  Yes, those icons of the American family: the Nelsons and the Andersons, the Cleavers and the Stones.  All for new generations to wonder at, and older ones to lament over.

            But, as the “happy days” faded, so did our image of the family.  The way we “were” became more and more the way we “are”.  Innocence faded even for those whose image seemed untouched by the human condition.  We came to learn that Andy Griffith and Frances Bavier who played Aunt Bee did not get along in real life; Lauren Chapin who played Kathy on Father Knows Best was sexually abused by her real-life father; teen idol Ricky Nelson who died in a plane accident had a number of drugs in his system at the time of his death and Dick Van Dyke would one day openly discuss his struggle with alcoholism.

            The stage was set then for a dose of realism for television’s first families.  The Bunkers proved once and for all father doesn’t know best.  While the Partridge family showed us a working mother whose kids sang for their supper ‘cause Ozzie wasn’t around to support Harriet any more. A bit later the Brady Bunch gently prepared us for the “blended family”.  Laura Petry was now Mary Richards, who didn’t really need her husband Rob’s paycheck any more.  And of course the almost exclusive brand of TV family – White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant – would soon make room for the Jeffersons, the Huxtables, the Barones, and the Conners.  You could even throw in the Addams Family and the Munsters for good measure!

            But no one could have imagined The Modern Family – the show that featured characters Mitchell and Cameron Pritchett -- one of the first series to have openly gay characters who would eventually marry and adopt a daughter, Lily.   This even caught the attention of the Vatican – and in ways you might not think.  Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia of the Pontifical Council for the Family noted how, owing to “phenomena like the media production ‘Modern Family,’ or same-sex marriage initiatives in a significant number of jurisdictions, the family has become the subject of increasingly intense interest and discussion….[Such discussion] centers too much on definitions of the family unacceptable to one political current or another, and on economic considerations….Instead family is a complex of human relationships characterized by love, fidelity, commitment, sacrifice, trust, conflict, joy, fruitfulness, nurture, respect, celebration, protection, memory and faith.”

            Sounds to me like the Holy Family.  And I’m not talking about a midnight clear when angels sang, shepherds quaked, a Virgin swaddled an Infant mild, and Magi followed yonder star – things that awaken our instinct for nostalgia as if Christmas were a Hallmark movie of “the way it was” in Bethlehem.  Such cozy images can gloss over the other things that roused the Child from sleeping in heavenly peace.

            Like the dream warning Joseph to take the child and his mother, and flee for Herod was searching to destroy him (G).  Tidings of comfort and joy these were not.  Nor was all calm and bright when those three set out for Egypt that night.  The little town of Bethlehem would not for long lie still.  The Holy Family became poli­tical refugees until they felt it safe to go back.  Even then they had to relocate, lest Herod’s son succeed where his father failed.  They were forced into hiding, far from the threats to the Child’s life, and nagging suspicions over his origins.  So there’s plenty in the Christmas story to show us “the way it wasn’t” -- how memory plays tricks on us when we imagine scenes from the first Christ­mas, indulging our appetite for nostalgia.

            But as Stephanie Coontz warns, “Nostalgia is a very human trait. When school children returning from summer vacation are asked to name good and bad things about their summer, the lists tend to be equally long. As the year goes on, however, if the exercise is repeated, the good list grows longer and the bad list gets shorter, until by the end of the year the children are describing not their actual vacations but their idealized image of ‘vacation.’ So it is with our collective ‘memory’ of family life. As time passes, the actual complexity of our history—even of our own personal experience—gets buried under the weight of the ideal image.”

            All of which should comfort us really.  For the ideal presented in the Holy Family is something we can relate to after all.  Problems faced by families today were familiar to the Church’s model family.  Everything from the difficulties posed by “nontradi­tional” ways of bringing a child into the world, to financial insecurities, to affordable housing, to keeping your children safe, to concern about the best environment in which to raise them.  The way it was for them--and is for us--has much in common.  Jesus, Mary and Joseph are not plastic figures in a nativity set.  They are flesh and blood people whose marriage and family life was tough, with many obstacles to overcome; indeed, a family under siege.

            A family, though, whose trust in God led them from Bethlehem, into Egypt, and finally to Nazareth.  Despite the uncertainties which accompa­nied them on their journey, they persevered in faith, to face the trials of this world (Prayer after Communion).  And we walk with them.  Not by taking flight into distorted images of reality--a “nostalgia trap”--but living life as it is.  As it always was.

            Mindful we are God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, called to do everything, whether in speech or in action, in the name of the Lord Jesus.  Everything from facing the challenges of living together as spouses, the daily struggle of being faithful to vows, and to the duties parents and children have toward each other, bearing with one another, forgiving whatever grievances you may have against one another.  All in Christ’s name, through whom we give thanks to God (cf. II), and who lives and reigns forever and ever.  Amen.

Creed

Intercessions (Mary Grace Melcher)

For our Holy Father, head of the family that
is the Body of Christ, that He may be held
in honor within the church.

For peace in our families, forgiveness of
grievances, harmony of roles, and that our
children may be safe and loved within the
home, so that our nation and every nation
may be built up in peace.

That our families may be protected from the
special dangers of our age: from abortion
and euthanasia, from the inroads of
materialism and violence; that faith and
prayer and mutual love may keep them
together in the Lord.

For families in exile, for families that
have lost their children, for families of
the unemployed and the poor, that the
Holy Family, which experienced all these
situations, may be their comfort and hope.

For the gift of vocations, that the Christian
life of our families may flower in young lives
consecrated to the Lord, whose ministry
will serve in turn to strengthen the families
of the future.

For our loved ones who have died, for our
elders who have gone before us, that they
may rest in peace and help their beloved
families with their prayers.

Loving God,
guardian of our homes,
when you entrusted your Son
to the care of Mary and Joseph,
you did not spare them the pains
that touch the life of every family.
Teach us to rely on your word,
that in our trials as in our joys
we may be clothed in gentleness and patience
and united in love.
Make us ever-thankful
for the blessings you give us
through Jesus Christ, your Word made flesh,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
in the splendour of eternal light,
God for ever and ever. Amen. (ICEL; 1998)

 Offertory Chants

 

In you have I put my trust, O Lord; I said: “You are my God, my destiny is in your hands.” Ps/. Let your face shine on your servant. * Save me in your merciful love. Let me not be put to shame, O Lord, * for I call on you; let the wicked be shamed! * Let them be silenced in the grave!

Offertory Hymn

 

 

Good people all, this Christmastime
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.

With thankful heart and joyful mind
The shepherds went the Babe to find
And as God’s angels had foretold,
They did our Savior 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.
 
Come let us then our tribute pay
To our good God as well we may
For all His grace and mercy shown
Through His Son to us, all then unknown;
And when through life we wend our way,
‘Mid trials and sufferings, day by day,
In faith and hope, whate’er befall,
We’ll wait in holy peace His call.

 

Communion Chant

 Take the child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel; for those who sought the child are dead.

Closing Hymn

Ye sons of men, with me rejoice
And praise the heavens with heart and voice!
For joyful tidings you we bring
Of this heavenly Babe, the newborn King.
 
Who from His mighty throne above
Came down to magnify His love
To all such as would Him embrace,
And would be born again in grace.


The mystery for to unfold
When the King of Kings, He did behold,
The poor unhappy state of man,
He sent His dear beloved Son.
 
Give Him your heart the first of all,
Free from all malice, wrath, and gall;
And now He’s on His throne on high,
He will crown you eternally!

 

 

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