Feast of the Holy Family

Engaging Faith | Thu, Dec 27, 2012

By John Bucki, S.J.
Source: Center of Concern

Lectionary reflections for the Feast of the Holy Family - 30 December 2012.

Feast of the Holy Family [c]

December 30, 2012


Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14 or 1 Samuel 1:20-22, 24-28
Colossians 3:12-21 or 3:12-17 or 1 John 3:1-2, 21-24
Luke 2:41-52


December 26 – January 1: Kwanza
December 28: Feast of the Holy Innocents
January 1: World Day of Prayer for Peace
January 1: Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God
January 6: Epiphany of the Lord
January 6-12: National Migration Week 
January 7: Orthodox Christmas Day


“Learning to practice the virtue of solidarity means that ‘loving our neighbor’ has global dimensions in an interdependent world.”
~ Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions, U.S. Bishops

If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation.
~ Benedict XVI, Message for World Day of Peace, 1 January 2010

May Christ’s love guide every people on earth and strengthen their common consciousness of being a "family" called to foster relationships of trust and mutual support. A united humanity will be able to confront the many troubling problems of the present time: from the menace of terrorism to the humiliating poverty in which millions of human beings live, from the proliferation of weapons to the pandemics and the environmental destruction which threatens the future of our planet.
~ Benedict XVI, Urbi et Orbi Message, Christmas 2005

 “To overcome today's individualistic mentality, a concrete commitment to solidarity and charity is needed, beginning in the family.”
~ John Paul II, The Hundredth Year, #49

The solidarity which binds all people together as members of a common family makes it impossible for wealthy nations to look with indifference upon the hunger, misery and poverty of other nations whose citizens are unable to enjoy even elementary human rights. The nations of the world are becoming more and more dependent on one another and it will not be possible to preserve a lasting peace so long as glaring economic and social imbalances persist.
~ John XXIII, Mater et Magistra, #157

It is in the family that peacemakers, tomorrow’s promoters of a culture of life and love, are born and nurtured.
~ Benedict XVI, Message for World Day of Peace, 1 January 2013

The attainment of peace depends above all on recognizing that we are, in God, one human family.
~ Benedict XVI, Message for World Day of Peace, 1 January 2013

Thoughts for your consideration

Catholic Social Teaching invites all the people of our world to live in solidarity.  The verses from Sirach about care for parents remind us of our social responsibility for one another both within our families and within the worldwide human family.

Salvation is not possible without forgiveness. In the reading from the letter to the Colossians we are reminded of the need for forgiveness. Forgiveness is the key if we are to achieve the healing we desire in our families and in the global human family (especially between nations and ethnic and religious groups). Each person needs to look beyond his or her self.

In the gospel story we find at least four levels of solidarity – family, village, tradition, and God.  Jesus is in solidarity with his immediate family of Joseph and Mary and grows as a full human person in this environment.  Jesus and his parents travel to Jerusalem in solidarity with a whole caravan of people. Jesus and the whole caravan of people are going up to Jerusalem in solidarity with the whole people of Israel to celebrate the feast.  Jesus seeks solidarity with the tradition and with God as he asks questions and seeks the truth.  The Christian ideal is not that of the rugged self-sufficient individual achieving his or her individual salvation or peace with God.  The Christian is one who achieves salvation in community. Our concerns are concerns for the good of the whole community – what our tradition calls the common good. 

The recent shootings in Newtown, Connecticut may invite us to think more deeply about family and solidarity.  27 families were radically changed as they experienced tragic deaths to their loved ones.  The entire town and nation was shocked and hurt.  Profound solidarity and support unfolded as countless people responded with prayer and action.


A note on the longer version of the second reading from Colossians:  Many may prefer to use the reading from first letter of John or shorter version from Colossians because of various problematic interpretations about wives being submissive to their husbands which can arise from the longer version. This line taken out of context has been improperly used to justify acts of violence against women.  It is important to keep in mind what was written by the Bishops’ Committee on Marriage and Family Life in their document “When I Call for Help: A Pastoral Response to Domestic Violence against Women.”
     As a Church, one of the most worrying aspects of the abuse practiced against women is the use of biblical texts, taken out of context, to support abusive behavior. Counselors report that both abused women and their batterers use scripture passages to justify their behavior.   Abused women say, "I can't leave this relationship. The Bible says it would be wrong." Abusive men say, "The Bible says my wife should be submissive to me." They take the biblical text and distort it to support their right to batter.  As bishops, we condemn the use of the Bible to condone abusive behavior. A correct reading of the Scriptures leads people to a relationship based on mutuality and love. Again, John Paul II describes it accurately: "In the ‘unity of the  two,' man and woman are called from the beginning not only to exist ‘side by side' or ‘together,' but they are also called to exist mutually one for the other."

Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

How do you understand family because of the recent shootings in Newtown, Connecticut?
How do these events change the way you see things?
How did you experience solidarity in response to these events?


What has been your experience of family? 
How has this influenced the way you relate to the bigger world?


1. Share an example in your growing up where you were taught the value of being concerned with more than your individual good, i.e. the common good.
2. Name a concrete sign of your actions in solidarity with the neediest part of the world.


When his ship stopped at a remote island for a day, the bishop determined to use the time as profitably as possible. He strolled along the seashore and came across three fishermen attending to their nets. In Pidgin English they announced to him that centuries before they had been Christianized by missionaries. “We, Christians!” they said, proudly pointing to one another.
The bishop was impressed. Did they know the Lord’s Prayer? They had never heard of it. The bishop was shocked.

“What do you say, then, when you pray?”

“We lift eyes in heaven. We pray, ‘We are three, you are three, have mercy on us.’”

The bishop was appalled at the primitive, the downright heretical, nature of the prayer. So he spent the whole day teaching them the Lord’s Prayer. The fishermen were poor learners, but they gave it all they had and before the bishop sailed away next day he had the satisfaction of hearing them go through the formula faultlessly.

Months later his ship happened to pass by those islands again and the bishop, as he paced the deck reciting evening prayer, recalled with pleasure the three men on that distant island who were now able to pray, thanks to his patient efforts.

Suddenly he saw a spot of light in the east that kept approaching the ship and, as he gazed in wonder, he saw three figures walking on the water. The captain stopped the boat and everyone leaned over the rails to see this sight.

They were the bishop’s fishermen, of course. “Bishop,” they exclaimed, “We hear your boat go past and come hurry-hurry meet you.”

“What is it you want?” asked the awe-stricken bishop.

“Bishop,” they said, “We so, so sorry. We forget lovely prayer. We say: Our Father in heaven, holy be your name, your kingdom come... then we forget. Tell us prayer again.” It was a chastened bishop who replied,

“Go back to your homes, my friends, and each time you pray, say, “We are three, you are three, and have mercy on us!”


Actions - Links

World Day of Peace: Blessed are the Peacemakers
Go to to read the message of Benedict XVI for the World Day of Peace for 1 January 2013. 
In order to emerge from the present financial and economic crisis – which has engendered ever greater inequalities – we need people, groups and institutions which will promote life by fostering human creativity, in order to draw from the crisis itself an opportunity for discernment and for a new economic model. The predominant model of recent decades called for seeking maximum profit and consumption, on the basis of an individualistic and selfish mindset, aimed at considering individuals solely in terms of their ability to meet the demands of competitiveness. Yet, from another standpoint, true and lasting success is attained through the gift of ourselves, our intellectual abilities and our entrepreneurial skills, since a “livable” or truly human economic development requires the principle of gratuitousness as an expression of fraternity and the logic of gift.

National Migration Week: Renewing Hope, Seeking Justice
Resources for liturgy and other info about National Migration Week (January6-12) can be found at the site of the NCCB/USCC Office for Migration and Refugee Services: .   Benedict XVI’s message for the World Day for Migrants and Refugees can be found at:

Christmas in Gaza

Statement from Pax Christi USA on the events in Newtown, Connecticut:

Statement of Marian Wright Edelman’s column on the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School:

Children’s Defense Fund Petition

“Crazy facts”

CDF's Protect Children, Not Guns 2012 is a compilation of the most recent and reliable national and state data on gun violence in America. This report provides the latest statistics on firearm deaths by race, age and manner; highlights state gun violence trends and efforts to prevent child access to guns; dispels common myths about guns; and explains the significance of recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions on gun ownership.
In 2008, 2,947 children and teens died from guns in the United States and 2,793 died in 2009 for a total of 5,740—one child or teen every three hours, eight every day, 55 every week for two years. Six times as many children and teens—34,387—suffered nonfatal gun injuries as gun deaths in 2008 and 2009. This is equal to one child or teen every 31 minutes, 47 every day, and 331 children and teens every week.

Prayers of Intercession

Response: God, help us to come together as one family.
For all our families, that God will bless them with what they need, we pray….
For healing in all families that are divided by disagreements and misunderstandings, we pray….
For all families who are experiencing violence and suffering today, we pray….
For the families affected by the shootings in Newtown, we pray….
For all families caught up injustice and poverty, we pray….
For our whole human family, that we may learn to be one, we pray….
For end to all the wars that keep us from being one, we pray….
For the ability to forgive and move on as a united family, we pray….
For a greater and more effective commitment to the care of our planet which we share, we pray….

Prayer - Meditation

Prayer for a New Society from Pax Christi USA, 1995

All-nourishing God, your children cry for help
Against the violence of our world:
Where children starve for bread and feed on weapons;
Starve for vision and feed on drugs;
Starve for love and feed on videos;
Starve for peace and die murdered in our streets.
Creator God, timeless preserver of resources,
Forgive us for the gifts that we have wasted.
Renew for us what seems beyond redemption;
Call order and beauty to emerge again from chaos.
Convert our destructive power into creative service;
Help us to heal the woundedness of our world.

Liberating God, release us from the demons of violence.
Free us today from the disguised demon of deterrence
That puts guns by our pillows and missiles in our skies.

Free us from all demons that blind and blunt our spirits;
Cleanse us from all justifications for violence and war;
Open our narrowed hearts to the suffering and the poor.

Abiding God, loving renewer of the human spirit,
Unfold our violent fists into peaceful hands:
Stretch our sense of family to include our neighbors;
Stretch our senses of neighbor to include our enemies;
Until our response to you finally respects and embraces
All creation as precious sacraments of your presence.

Hear the prayer of your starving children.

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