December 31, 2017: The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
Catholic Social Teaching: Call to Family, Community and Participation
So that this call should resound throughout the world, Christ sent forth the apostles he had chosen, commissioning them to proclaim the gospel: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” Strengthened by this mission, the apostles “went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it.”
Those who with God’s help have welcomed Christ’s call and freely responded to it are urged on by love of Christ to proclaim the Good News everywhere in the world. This treasure, received from the apostles, has been faithfully guarded by their successors. All Christ’s faithful are called to hand it on from generation to generation, by professing the faith, by living it in fraternal sharing, and by celebrating it in liturgy and prayer.
(2 and 3) Catechism of the Catholic Church
First Reading: Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14 or Genesis 15:1-6; 21:1-3
Psalm: 128:1-2, 3, 4-5 or 105:1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8-9
Second Reading: Colossians 3:12-21 or Hebrews 11:8, 11-12, 17-19
Gospel: Luke 2:22-40
Catechism of the Catholic Church
The Christian family constitutes a specific revelation and realization of ecclesial communion, and for this reason it can and should be called a domestic church.”9 It is a community of faith, hope, and charity; it assumes singular importance in the Church, as is evident in the New Testament. (2204)
From the Daily Roman Missal, Introduction to the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Cycle B
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church:
It is in the family that one learns the love and faithfulness of the Lord, and the need to respond to these (cf. Ex 12:25-27, 13:8,14-15; Deut 6:20-25, 13:7-11; 1 Sam 3:13). It is in the family that children learn their first and most important lessons of practical wisdom, to which the virtues are connected (cf. Prov 1:8-9, 4:1-4, 6:20-21; Sir 3:1-16, 7:27-28). Because of all this, the Lord himself is the guarantor of the love and fidelity of married life (cf. Mal 2:14-15). (210)
The immediate purpose of the Church’s social doctrine is to propose the principles and values that can sustain a society worthy of the human person. Among these principles, solidarity includes all the others in a certain way. It represents “one of the fundamental principles of the Christian view of social and political organization”.
Light is shed on this principle by the primacy of love, “the distinguishing mark of Christ’s disciples (cf. Jn 13:35)”. Jesus teaches us that “the fundamental law of human perfection, and consequently of the transformation of the world, is the new commandment of love” (cf. Mt 22:40, Jn 15:12; Col 3:14; Jas 2:8). Personal behaviour is fully human when it is born of love, manifests love and is ordered to love. This truth also applies in the social sphere; Christians must be deeply convinced witnesses of this, and they are to show by their lives how love is the only force (cf. 1 Cor 12:31-14:1) that can lead to personal and social perfection, allowing society to make progress towards the good. (580)
What a disservice flows from idealizing a nuclear family! An air of perfection unattainable while maintaining rational sanity. Stereotypical, storybook persona void of humility, shuttered by holiness from the reality of lives lived interacting with the world. Focusing on the family’s righteous purity subtracts from time, energy and inertia to see the family’s panoramic view in the broader picture of life. Insulating, isolating in their personal, holy realm steals from the family the genuine encounter with the human family. A place taking the focus off us to we frees the nuclear family from self-absorption to allow themselves to be absorbed into the human family. The opportunity to dialogue, share, cooperate for the greater common good. The pressure of spiritual and economic success and status drifts to seeing the imperatives of the broader picture, not a minuscule segment. Idealizing the nuclear family creates an injustice for families, eventually leading to injustice for the entire human family. For a nuclear family may have a ruse that by their pious lifestyle they think they are a loving family, but is love really to love themselves but render disdain to a world they label as immoral, pagan or secular? Jesus loved the world by being in the world. When will we individually and as the Body of Christ start acknowledging and prioritizing the way our Lord loved in his humanity instead of harkening a theology retreating from the world? As people of faith, families of faith, what do we have to fear by living in the world? To withdraw only seal families further from using their gifts in service of God’s kingdom. Don’t let us fool ourselves into fake holiness with a pristine, retractionist model idealizing families, for Jesus said go forth to be disciples and at the end of Mass we are sent forth. Focusing inward is 180 degrees contrary to going forth. Practicing compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another must be ordered not just among kin but all humanity to manifest the message of Jesus to live in love and the fullness of His peace into which we are called in one Body. With thanksgiving, a process respecting and caring for all members and sectors of society. We must come into the temple of the Lord with the Holy Spirit, like Simeon, to see while we may live in a nuclear family our Catholic faith call us to a much broader perspective. Only if the nuclear family instills that persona to resist the temptation to not fully live, but just exist as a pious entity will the Word of Christ dwell richly in them. Further, chastisement of families labeled broken, irregular, separated adds fracturing of the human family. The spirit of welcome, especially at our parishes gets laden with guilt, contempt to block entry from participating as the Body of Christ and ultimately from being sent forth to engage with the broader human family. Shunning segments of society that fail to fit in a preconceived, precise, pseudo holy box leave a lot of people feeling like they live in crevasses unable to climb out. A sense of abandonment be it by the Church or the broader society and they may be outside the idealized “norm” on no account of their own doing. To love as Jesus loves, the bond of perfection requires lives of faith, not lives crafting labels to absolve the responsibility to love. Jesus, Mary and Joseph journeyed as a nuclear family, but their model to us transcends that finite unit to their participation in the broader human family and God’s kingdom. Let us loving follow in their footsteps.
Individual Reflection: Colossians 3:12-21
Utilize the National Migration Week resources at your parish and among family and friends
Family Reflection: Luke 2:22-40
If you are a non-immigrant family share dinner and your journeys with an immigrant family. If you are an immigrant family do likewise with a non-immigrant family.
During National Migration Week from January 7th to14th offer a prayer for migrants in a specific part of the world each day, after first researching the challenges they are facing
Blogs to Visit:
As we reflect upon Mary’s presence in the mysteries of the Rosary, we are blessed to know her. For her journey, a timeless trek, calls us to surrender, continuing conversion, humbleness and justice now.
Weekly lectionary reflections, for faith sharing groups, parish bulletins, newsletters or personal prayer, from the synergy of the Word we hear and the rich tradition of Catholic Social Teaching.
Catholic Social Teaching offers seven principles for upholding life in our thoughts, decisions and actions.
How we do Catholic Social Teaching.
Creation sustainability ministry resources in the spirit of the St Francis Pledge.
Social Ministry Resources Engaging Parishes: Monthly and liturgical seasons resources for use with parish websites, bulletins and newsletters
List one or two upcoming events, legislative action alerts or social justice websites
By Barb Born December 19, 2017 The reflection maybe used in parish bulletins, newsletters or for faith sharing groups without copyright concern.