Homily for the Feast of Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph Year B
Theme: The Perfect Family
By: Fr. Jude Chijioke
Homily for Sunday December 27 2020
Readings: Genesis 15: 1-6; 21, 1-3; Hebrews 11,8.11-12.17-19; Luke 2: 22-40
“God led Abraham out and said to him: ‘Look in the sky and count the stars if you can count them’ and added: ‘Such will be your descendants. He believed the Lord, who credited it to him as righteousness.
The Lord visited Sarah and Sarah conceived and gave birth to a son for Abraham at old age. Abraham called the son born to him Isaac “(Gn 15, 21).
“When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, Mary and Joseph took the child to Jerusalem to offer it to the Lord. Now in Jerusalem there was a man named Simeon, a just and God-fearing man, who was waiting for the comfort of Israel; The Holy Spirit who was upon him had foretold him that he would not see death until he saw the Messiah. Moved therefore by the Spirit, he went to the Temple; and while the parents carried the baby Jesus there to fulfill the Law, He took him in her arms and blessed God” (Lk 2).
The dark night of Abraham and Sarah, old spouses and without the consolation of a son who continues their memory over time, is torn by the divine promise. Abraham entrusts himself to it alone, becoming the emblem of pure and flawless belief, even in the obstacles of existence. The famous verse on Abraham’s faith, which is the apex of today’s first reading (“he believed and the Lord credited it to him as justice”), will in fact become the basis on which Paul will weave the great meditation of the Letter to the Romans (chapter 4). In the end, the divine promise has its fulfillment, faith reaches the landing of peace and joy. It is inside that little creature born of two elderly spouses, Isaac, that God reveals his love and fidelity. The family thus becomes the sign of man’s faith and of God’s love.
But at the center of our celebration there is another family, that of Jesus, presented by the enchanting Lucanian page. It is the story of a family close to ours and distant at the same time. For the presence of Christ, it remains unattainable but for its humanity it also remains close and imitable. Luke underlines this double dimension from the beginning: he does not speak of the ransom of the firstborn Son Jesus as was declared in the text of Exodus 13, but of the announcement of the angel (1, 35) saying that “every firstborn male will be sacred to the Lord “(v. 23). Jesus is not a redeemed like other Jewish children, his very name says that it is he who redeems, he is the Savior (2:11), he is the Saint, the one totally consecrated to God.
Even an encounter with an elderly person can belong to the normal movement of a birth, a visible sign of the continuity of life within a family. But for Jesus the scene is no longer picturesque and familiar, it becomes a prophetic act. Note, in fact, the insistence on the function that the Holy Spirit, source of prophecy, fulfills throughout the narration: “The Holy Spirit was upon him and had foretold him … Moved by the Spirit, he went to the Temple” (vv. 26-27).
In that child, history acquires a new meaning, ancient Israel testifies to its hope that has come to fruition: “Let your servant go in peace.” And the mystery of the child is outlined by the following short hymn of thanksgiving: Jesus is the ‘salvation’, he is the “light of the nations” as the Servant of the Lord (Is 42, 6; 49, 6), he is the glory of ‘Israel’, that is, the living presence of the Lord whose glory shines on Israel.
Every child has a future and a destiny that his years will progressively develop and carry out in misery and joy, in greatness and weakness. Jesus, on the other hand, has a mysterious destiny marked by Luke based on two Isaian texts (8, 14 and 28, 16). Like God, he will be a discriminating sign in the history of humanity: the rock on which the believer will build the edifice of their existence, a stumbling block that will make the proud and the sinner fall (Mt 21, 42). This child will therefore become the sign of the sacrifice that every man makes on himself, revealing his secret and his authentic reality.
And, after the parallel episode of Anna, a new symbol now sated Jewish hope, another normal fact emerges in the story of a child, his growth. In a Palestinian village, Nazareth, Jesus “grows and becomes strong” like the Baptist (Lk 1, 80) and like any other boy. But Luke adds two other notes that detach Jesus as a boy from other peers: “he was full of wisdom and the grace of God was upon him” (2, 40). “Wisdom”, a radical attitude of openness towards God and neighbor, and grace, a living and beneficial presence of God, are two features of the ‘superior’ portrait of Jesus. They will be put into action in the next scene of the Temple and doctors. Baby Jesus is already the fullness of human and religious maturity and the center of the full outpouring of God’s love.
Fr. Jude Chijioke