Feast of the Holy Family – Year A

Holy Family1


The Gospel stories leave us no room to doubt. According to Jesus, God has a great project: build a great human family in the world. Attracted to this project, Jesus is completely dedicated to the fact that everyone feel God as their Father and all learn to live as brothers and sisters. This is the path that leads to salvation for the human race.

For some, today’s family is on its way to destruction because it has lost the traditional ideal of «Christian family». For others, any novelty is progress toward a new society. But how is a family open to the humanizing project of God? What features could we identify?

Love between the spouses. That’s first. The home is alive when the parents know how to love each other, support each other mutually, share pains and joys, forgive one another, dialogue and trust in one another. The family begins to be dehumanized when selfishness, arguing and misunderstandings grow.

Relationship between parents and children. The love of spouses isn’t enough. When parents and children live in confrontation and with hardly any communication, family life becomes impossible, joy disappears, everyone suffers. The family needs a climate of mutual trust in order to think about the good of everyone.

Attention to the most fragile. Others need to find welcome, support and understanding in their home. But the family becomes more human above all when the smallest are taken care of with love and kindness there, when the elderly are loved respectfully and patiently, when the sick and handicapped are treated carefully, when those who are going through hard times are not abandoned.

Openness to those in need. A family works for a more human world, when it isn’t closed in on its own problems and interests, but lives open to the needs of other families: broken homes without work or any income, who need material help; families of immigrants who ask for welcome and friendship.

Growth in faith. In the family we learn to live what’s most important. That’s why it’s the best place to learn to believe in that good God, Father of all; to get to know Jesus’ way of life; to discover his Good News; to pray together around the dinner table; to take part in the life of the community of Jesus’ followers. These Christian families contribute to building that world that is more just, dignified, and happy – the one God wants. They are a blessing to society.

José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf


Matthew 2:13-15,19,23

The people of Israel were waiting for a Messiah who would repeat the glorious deeds of Moses, the great leader. This expectation was founded on what the liberator had said before he died: “Yahweh, your God will raise up a prophet like myself, from among yourselves, from your own brothers” (Dt 18:15). Matthew in his Gospel wants us to understand that Jesus is this new prophet. Using the teaching method of his time, he does not say so explicitly, but explains to us how the life of Jesus was similar to that of Moses.

Pharaoh gave the order that all male children of the Jews be thrown into the river (Ex 1:15-22). Herod ordered the killing of all the children in Bethlehem. Moses was the only one who escaped the massacre (Ex 2:1-10) and the same thing happened to Jesus. Later on, Moses had to flee to avoid being killed (Ex 2:15). Jesus was forced to do the same. Finally, when those who wanted to kill him had died, Moses was told, “’Go, return to Egypt, for all those who wanted to kill you are dead.’ Moses then took his wife and his son, and putting them on a donkey started back for the land of Egypt” (Ex 4:19-20). These are the same words we find in today’s Gospel (v. 20).

It is clear that Matthew wanted to show Jesus as the new Moses. I have insisted on this point because this year we shall be commenting on Matthew’s Gospel and we will often come across this parallel between Moses and Jesus.

Today’s Gospel is also linked to the quotation from Hosea’s prophecy: “I called my son out of Egypt” (v. 15). The prophet probably means the people of Israel who in the Bible are called “my first-born son” (Ex 4:22). The Israelites were called out of Egypt to the Promised Land. By applying this saying to Jesus, Matthew tells us that Jesus identifies himself with the people he wants to save.

READ: The Book of Sirach instructs us in the Fourth Commandment—honoring our father and mother, and the many blessings it brings. Paul speaks of what makes for a peaceful and holy family—love, deep respect, mutual submission, obedience, compassion, forgiveness, and the centrality of God. Matthew narrates the flight of the Holy Family to Egypt.

REFLECT: What made the family of Mary and Joseph holy? Even in the midst of life’s struggles, they remained faithful to God and to each other. Do I expect God to remove all the struggles of everyday life just because I have remained faithful to him?

PRAY: Pray for broken families in our midst. Pray that our families may become holy and blessed. Pray for the values of love, deep respect, mutual submission, obedience, compassion, forgiveness, and centeredness on God to reign supreme in our families.

ACT: Visit other family members and dine with them, especially your parents. If distance prevents you, give them a call and engage in loving and respectful conversation. Bless each other in your family.

Fernando Armellini
Italian missionary and biblical scholar