A Reflection on the Readings’ for Sunday, December 26, 2021
The Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
Reading I: Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14 or 1 Samuel 1:20-22, 24-28
Responsorial Psalm: 128:1-2, 3, 4-5 or 84:2-3, 5-6, 9-10
Reading II: Colossians 3:12-21 or 3:12-17 or 1 John 3:1-2, 21-24
Gospel: Luke 2:41-52
This Sunday, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. With the exception of our gospel passage from chapter 2 of Luke, there are several options for the scriptures that will be proclaimed. Consequently, we really don’t know what readings we will hear on this feast so I won’t try to comment on what we may or may not hear.
However, our gospel passage should be familiar and remind us of the 5th Joyful Mystery of the Rosary; the child Jesus is found in the temple “…in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions and all who heard him were astounded…”
The overall theme of family is clear in this feast, and that is not a subject that requires commentary as we are all keenly aware of the responsibilities that family involves for each of us. First and foremost is the love and fidelity of the spouses and the recognition that marriage is not simply between the spouses but also involves God in the relationship if the marriage is to be strong and long-lasting. As long as the spouses keep God firmly embedded in their relationship, then the marriage has every opportunity of success. There are also the responsibilities of bearing, educating and raising children with the Christian values that our parents instilled in us; and of honoring and obeying parents and paying them the respect they are due, even in their old age when caring for them may become a burden.
But, above all else, the binding force in any family relationship is love, and it is God’s will that love should be the binding force in all of our relationships. We tend to think of the word “Love” as having only one meaning: a deeply held emotional response to one or more individuals. For example, the feelings we have for our spouses and children. But in the Greek language of the New Testament, there are several words that we translate as “love,’ and they all have somewhat different meanings.
*Eros refers to the love between spouses and has a sexual connotation.
*Storge refers to the love in family relationships such as the love one has for his/her children and parents.
*Phileo refers to the warm relationships between close friends.
*And then there isAgape which refers to unconditional goodwill toward all others, even those who may be enemies.
Each of these words can be translated as “Love,” but they each have different meanings; we don’t love our parents and children the way we love our spouses. It is not possible for someone to say: I love God, but I hate my neighbor. It is Agape Love that God requires of us outside of our family relationships, a love that shows unconditional goodwill and respect for all others, even if they don’t show the same toward us.
Although the theme of our celebrations this Sunday is “family,” it is the love that is shared within that family that binds it together, and it is love that should be the binding force in all of our relationships.
*The Greek Expositor’s New Testament
Author: Ric Cross