God was incarnate for us and took on a human body with everything that this entails. For a human child to grow to maturity they need the protection of a human family. This was also true for the child Jesus. Today we celebrate this reality as we are invited to look at the family of Mary, Joseph and Jesus.
In the first and second readings, the Word of God teaches us about love and respect in family life. The fourth commandment invites us to honour our father and our mother. The book of Ben Sirach presents us with a reflective reading on how to fully respect our parents. In a similar way, in his letter to the Colossians, Paul invites the ‘saints’ to be compassionate, kind, humble, gentle and patient; but above all this, those who are chosen by God need to witness to the life of God within them through the love that they share. These characteristics need to be visible primarily within the context of the family.
In the gospel we read about Mary and Joseph who, like good and devout Jews, present their first born son to God in the temple. In Jesus, God himself enters his temple and is welcomed by Simeon and Anna. As much as we would prefer life in to be happy and simple, we know from our own experience that it is fraught with trouble at each step of the way. The Holy Family too had to face their difficulties; a sword would pierce Mary’s soul too! Perhaps through these troubles, we can rest assured that like Jesus, God’s favour will always be with us too!
Joseph De Piro celebrated a wedding ceremony on more than one occasion, and as part of the ceremony he always delivered a homily. In one of these sermons De Piro spoke about the preparation that the couple were expected to undergo in the lead up to marriage. They need to be aware that they were going to pronounce their marriage vows in the presence of God himself, and God will make the couple one. Since God created the man and the woman for each other, He also provides what is necessary for the couple to live together. He provides all the graces necessary for the couple to live married life as God wants them to.
“Be ever mindful of the holiness of the matrimonial state and, animate yourselves by this consideration to a discharge of your obligations. May you never lose sight of the sacred promises you are about to utter, as the basis of your confidence in each other. Remember also that mutual fidelity which you now profess, and which is so strikingly represented by the ring used in this ceremony, as the seal of your lasting and happy union.”
The Servant of God highlighted a most important reason related to the marriage between a man and a woman. In marriage they are called “… to support and comfort each other;” husband and wife are expected to “… promote each other’s happiness.”