Sunday, Dec. 27, is the feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Mass Readings: Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14; Psalm 128:1-5; Colossians 3:12-21; Luke 2:22-40.
Last week, the Fourth Sunday of Advent, we heard about the fidelity of God and his promise to David. This promise was fulfilled in the birth of Jesus, which we celebrated just a few days ago. This Sunday, we celebrate fidelity as well, the fidelity of and within the family.
The first reading is from Sirach, who tells us how parents are set over their children by God. Therefore, one who honors and reveres his or her parents “atones for sins” and “stores up riches.” Sirach says that even if a father’s “mind fail, be considerate of him.” This is what fidelity means within the family. The Psalmist tells us that family itself is a gift from the Lord. We read that “children are like olive plants around your table,” for “those who fear the Lord and walk in his way.” Thus, fidelity to God is rewarded by and through family.
In the Gospel, we learn that we should respond to the gift of family with greater fidelity to God. St. Luke tells us that St. Joseph and Our Lady take the newborn Baby Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem, many miles away from Bethlehem in order to be faithful to the Law of God — despite the great sacrifice such obedience entails. The Holy Family’s fidelity is confirmed by the witnesses of Simeon and Anna.
Simeon’s steadfast fidelity to God had given him long life so that he might one day see the Messiah. On that day in the Temple, he took the Baby Jesus in his arms and praised the Lord for his faithfulness to him and to the people of Israel. Anna was a widow whose fidelity to God was manifested through her constant presence in the Temple, where she “worshipped night and day with fasting and prayer.” Though they are without spouses, both Simeon and Anna are blessed because of their past fidelity to their own families and to God.
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