HOLY FAMILY: Homily by Fr. Matthias Lusembo

THEME: THE HOLY FAMILY

Objective: That we keep God’s family holy.

Today, we are celebrating the holy family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. It is a holy family because it was established by God. It is holy because Christ the Second person of the Holy Trinity was born in it. It is Holy because Christ accepted the human condition in obedience to His Father. It is Holy because Mary obeyed God and conceived Jesus. It is holy because Joseph obeyed God’s commandments. When God told Joseph not to divorce Mary, Joseph obeyed God (Mt 1:19-24).

Joseph and Mary did not hesitate, when God told them to leave for Egypt (Mt 2:19-21). Mary and Joseph presented Jesus to the Lord (Lk 2:22), because, according to Ex 13:2,12, ‘every firstborn male had to be designated as holy to the Lord’. So, they offered Jesus to God, like Abraham offered Isaac (Heb 11:17). Mary and Joseph cooperated to do God’s will.

When his parents fetched him from the temple, Jesus obeyed them and went back home with them, hence fulfilling God’s fourth commandment to obey parents (Lk 2:51), showing a good example to all children that they have to obey their parents. Sirach 3:1-16 (Homework) explains the fourth commandment very well. In this quotation, God promises to hear the prayers of those who honor and obey their parents. He also promises them long life, meaning eternal life.

Through respect and obedience to his parents, Jesus learnt the mother tongue, prayer, scriptures and how to work. Personally, I value very much the knowledge I acquired from my parents: the prayers, how to cook, how to clean the house, how to iron clothing. Children, use the opportunity you have and learn from your parents.

In brief, the family’s holiness and stability depends on its obedience to God.

All families are supposed to be holy, because they originate from God, because each person in the family was created in God’s image (Gn 1:26-27) and because the primary purpose of the family is to prepare people for heaven. That is why Jesus urges parents to present their children to be baptized.

In this regard, parents are not just biological or adoptive parents, but also spiritual parents, charged with the upbringing of children in a living faith, by teaching them the word of God and praying with them, for “a family which prays together stays together.” (Fulton Sheen).

The nuclear family should prepare its members to fit in the global family of God promised to Abraham. God wants all races to become one holy family of His; all are to pray as Christ taught us saying “Our Father”. The unity which originates from the Unity of the Holy Trinity is supposed to spread to all people so that they treat one another as brothers and sisters in one family of God, despite the decorative colors or ethnicity.

The Holy Trinity sets the example when the three persons (God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit) say “Let us make man in our own image” (Gn 1:26). They also cooperate to save human beings:

 Father sends the son; the son sends the Holy Spirit. In their compassion, they agree among themselves to liberate us.

That is why Saint Paul advises all family members to have “heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another… As the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.… let the peace of Christ control your hearts… teach and admonish one another…do everything in the name of Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Col 3:12-17).

All these are necessary, because, we, human beings cannot always have the same opinion. We need to give in to the more reasonable opinions in order to have peace and tranquility. We need to eliminate the sins that disturb the holiness and stability of families. In case of problems seek counseling from priests or psychiatrists. Your family is supposed to encourage the youth to start holy families. 

Jesus gives us His body and blood to communicate to us the divine DNA that unites all of us in one family of God. As we partake of the body of Christ, let us also be ready to make some sacrifices in order to maintain peace and holiness in our families and the global family of God as Jesus, Mary and Joseph did.