The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
First reading: Sir 3:2-6, 12-14
Responsorial Psalm: 128:1-5
Second reading: Col 3:12-21 or 3:12-17
Gospel: Mt 2:13-15, 19-23
By Jem Sullivan
As another year draws to a close news programs often present a “Year in Review” to highlight outstanding events of the last 365 days. Human achievements and notable figures are featured for their global, national or local impacts.
Movie, television or sport celebrities usually make the list in the entertainment culture that surround us. And the effects of natural disasters or outbreaks of violence underscore the vulnerability of the human condition.
On the last Sunday of the calendar year, the word of God invites us to a spiritual year in review. We join the church in celebrating the feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph who lead us to the heart of God’s love made visible in the Christ Child of Bethlehem.
We look back at our spiritual journeys with gratitude for the countless mercies and abundant graces of God over the past year. With eyes of faith we recognize God’s presence in the midst of both joyful and challenging moments of the year before.
St. Paul urges the Colossians, and us, to look at our lives through the lens of faith: “Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience … and over all these put on love.”
These virtues may seem like an unreachable bar to measure ourselves against. All fall short of the call to holiness and our high dignity as sons and daughters of God. But looking to the past is not meant to discourage us. Christians are people of hope.
“And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly … 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.” A grateful heart is a heart acceptable and pleasing to God!
St. Joseph is an outstanding example of a grateful, humble heart. God entrusted to one man Joseph, a carpenter of Nazareth, the awesome responsibility of caring for Jesus and Mary. While we know few details about Joseph, his role as guardian of the Redeemer and of Mary, the mother of God, brought him close to the mystery of the Incarnation.
Joseph listened attentively to the angel of the Lord and protected the infant Jesus and his mother Mary from the hateful violence of Herod. Joseph did not make the headline news of his day! But his humility opened the way for God’s grace to work in the ordinary trials of this extraordinary family.
God’s grace works in us in the same mysterious way. In the ordinary moments of this past year, God surely walked with us through his constant mercy and forgiving love. We may not have always recognized God’s presence in our lives. The new year ahead is yet another graced opportunity to recognize God’s comforting presence as we pray, “speak to me, Lord.”
For whom and for what are you thankful to God this year?
Sullivan is secretary for Catholic education of the Archdiocese of Washington.