Feast of the Holy Family [c]

Engaging Faith | Tue, Dec 22, 2009

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

Feast of the Holy Family [c]

December 27, 2009


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 3: Epiphany of the Lord (in the US)

January 3-9: National Migration Week

January 7: Orthodox Christmas



"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

Humanity needs a profound cultural renewal; it needs to rediscover those values which can serve as the solid basis for building a brighter future for all.

Benedict XVI, Message for World Day of Peace, 1 January 2010

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.


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 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

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.

Actions - Links

World Day of Peace: If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation.

Go to to read the message of Benedict XVI for the World Day of Peace for 1 January 2010.

National Migration Week: Renewing Hope, Seeking Justice

Resources for liturgy and other info about National Migration Week (January3-9) 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:

Petition for a Global Development Strategy

MFAN (Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network) is a reform coalition composed of international development and foreign policy practitioners, policy advocates and experts, concerned citizens and private sector organizations. Organizations like Oxfam and Bread for the World support their efforts. Read more at

Consider signing their petition at

"Crazy facts"

UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund, says that 9.2 million children under age 5 died from largely preventable causes in 2007.

The recently published study, "Health Insurance and Mortality in U.S. Adults," in the American Journal of Public Health, found that "uninsured, working-age Americans have a 40 percent higher risk of death than their privately insured counterparts, up from a 25 percent excess death rate found in 1993."

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 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.