Sunday Reflection: Feast of the Holy Family (Year A)

Reflection:

The Incarnate God takes on humanity with all its attributes. The gospel according to Matthew paints a picture of Jesus and his parents facing similar difficulties to those experienced on a daily basis by many other families. Faced with persecution, Joseph, Mary and their young son Jesus become displaced refugees and escape to Egypt, out of King Herod’s reach. They live – in a refugee camp – in Egypt, until it is politically safe for them to return to their homeland, after Herod’s death.

Meanwhile, the first and second readings invite us to reflect on relationships within the family. The book of Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) encourages children to show respect to their parents, while Paul speaks about the relationship between husband and wife and their relationship with the children.

In another of his letters (Eph 5:21-33), Paul speaks at length about the relationship that should exist between husband and wife. He calls marriage a sacrament because it points to the union that exists between Christ and the Church. Husband and wife would do well to model their relationship upon that of Christ and the Church.

De Piro speaks about marriage in one of his homilies. Starting with Paul’s letter to the Church in Ephesus De Piro compares the relationship of Christ and the Church to that between husband and wife.

Further Readings:

Jesus towards his Church

Jesus loves the Church so profoundly that he sheds his blood for her and offers himself for her in the sacrament of the Eucharist.

Jesus protects his Church. He strengthens her to face persecution from her enemies, and helps her be victorious at each battle, surviving every storm unscathed. With his Spirit he keeps her secure in the ways of truth and justice.

Man towards Woman in marriage

… marriage is the association and union of two hearts for whom love and affection is a duty.

Alongside the woman, God created another being, whom he has richly endowed with great will power, profound skill of deliberation, energy and courage, needed to face the fight for existence. In marriage God assigned man the mission to defend, protect and support his companion, and to use the force of his hands, the strength of his spirit and the boldness of his initiatives to her benefit.

The Church towards Jesus

The Church reciprocates Jesus’ love with manifestations of the most tender affection. She speaks about Jesus to humanity with tones full of love. She commemorates and celebrates Jesus’ actions with the full splendour of her solemn celebrations. She surrounds the real presence of her divine spouse with the most delicate liturgies. She consoles the Heart of Jesus, opposed and insulted by many rebellious people.

Woman towards Man

The woman, more affectionate and better prone to gentleness and piety, has the mission to make her husband’s life and existence happier and more enjoyable. She has the ministry of pouring ointment on the wounds inflicted on his heart by the various conflicts and human cruelty. She is an instinctive comforter for is her husband.

Jesus and the Church

Jesus Christ and his Church work towards a common end; they share a common aim: the wellbeing of those generated and matured in the life of grace, through the blood of Jesus and the sacraments of the Church.

Man and Woman

When God bestows the grace of parenthood on two people, they are given a new mission. They must prepare other persons for a future on this earth and in eternity. They commit themselves to the most noble science, the art of cultivating the mind and heart of their offspring. In the harmony of their domestic sanctuary, they nurture the righteous and loyal man and the respectable woman; the holy and courageous Christian.

When De Piro spoke about the marriage union, he reminded the congregation that through this sacrament, God communicates his grace to the man and the woman. Without this grace:

  • the power and energy of the husband ceases to be protective forces; becoming, instead an enslaving autocracy;
  • the affection and love of the wife loses their prestige and odour, and are rendered ineffective, even harmful;
  • parenthood becomes an unbearable duty;
  • because children grow without any sound educational criteria, they become a embarrassment for their parents.

De Piro concludes with an appeal to the newly married couple:

“Be happy; preserve in you the grace that you have abundantly received. Turn to prayer, the fragrant communication with God. Turn to the Tabernacle; Jesus is always there ready to receive your petitions. Prayer and Eucharist must be the means that help you persevere in the grace of the sacrament that you have just received. Through prayer and the Eucharist, the joy of this day will last till the end of your life. Even when the years and the fatigue of a life spent in holy labour, have turned your hair white, you will still feel young in your thoughts, in your affection and in the youthful flowering of your children, who, well educated, will not only reflect your physical features but also your virtues.”