Gospel Reflection Dec 29 – Kim VanHuffel
Sunday, December 31
Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
Luke 2: 22-40
When the days were completed for their purification
according to the law of Moses,
They took him up to Jerusalem
to present him to the Lord,
just as it is written in the law of the Lord,
Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,
and to offer the sacrifice of
a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,
in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon.
This man was righteous and devout,
awaiting the consolation of Israel,
and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit
that he should not see death
before he had seen the Christ of the Lord.
He came in the Spirit into the temple;
and when the parents brought in the child Jesus
to perform the custom of the law in regard to him,
He took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:
“Now, Master, you may let your servant go
in peace, according to your word,
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you prepared in sight of all the peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and glory for your people Israel.”
The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him;
and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother,
“Behold, this child is destined
for the fall and rise of many in Israel,
and to be a sign that will be contradicted
—and you yourself a sword will pierce—
so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
There was also a prophetess, Anna,
the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.
She was advanced in years,
having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage,
and then as a widow until she was eighty-four.
She never left the temple,
but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.
And coming forward at that very time,
she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child
to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.
When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions
of the law of the Lord,
they returned to Galilee,
to their own town of Nazareth.
The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom;
and the favor of God was upon him.
This weekend is the Feast of the Holy Family. In the Gospel reading, we see Mary and Joseph taking Jesus to the Temple, as good Jewish parents would have, to observe Old Testament Law — for Jesus’ presentation to God and Mary’s ritual cleansing. Because of their strong faith in God, and their unsurpassed devotion to follow His will (even with the shadow of the cross falling over them through the words of Simeon in the Temple), they are presented as the perfect family model for us to follow. I could literally end the reflection there. That is the main point of this Feast day.
But it should be recognized that all families are not going to look like the Holy Family — with one Mom and one Dad and one PERFECT child. We come from families of all different shapes and sizes, and our families are NOT perfect. It is part of the human condition. But Jesus came down from heaven and took on our humanity, and at the same time elevated us to become children of God. So, not only does Jesus understand through first-hand experience how messy our human condition can be, he has also saved us from that same condition. Because of his incarnation, we have the hope of redemption. You and I — we are part of God’s family. Period. Through our Baptism, we have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, just as it was said of Simeon and Anna in this reading. They were not alone. They were part of God’s family too.
And just like the Holy Family, we sometimes have the shadow of the cross falling over us, many times within our own families. But, like Mary and Joseph, and like Simeon and Anna, we need to have faith in God and strive to do his will in our lives, and remember his promises to us. The Messiah was expected to bring peace to the people. So, with the help of Jesus, may we all find peace within ourselves, and may he help us to create peace and love within our families as well.