Feast of the Holy Family (a)

Engaging Faith | Thu, Dec 23, 2010

By John Bucki, S.J.

Feast of the Holy Family (a)

December 26, 2010



Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14

Colossians 3:12-17 or Colossians 3:12-21

Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23



December 26: Start of Kwanzaa

December 27: Feast of Saint John

December 28: Feast of the Holy Innocents

January 1: New Year’s Day; Solemnity of Mary; World Day of Prayer for Peace

January 2: The Epiphany of the Lord

January is Poverty in America Awareness Month

January 2-8: National Migration Week: “Renewing Hope, Seeking Justice.”




“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 peoples of the earth … are called to build relationships of solidarity and cooperation among themselves, as befits members of the one human family.”

Benedict XVI, World Day for Peace, 1 January 2008


“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


“Communities are brought into being by the participation of individual men and women, responding to this divine impulse towards social relationships - essentially, the impulse to love and to be loved - which was implanted by the God who created them. It is a distortion of human nature, therefore, to suppose that individuals can exist independently of society, as if it had no demand on them. Members of society are individually subject to moral principles in their own lives, and these implicit and explicit moral demands are not of their own invention. The same is true of societies. They too have demands and those demands are not arbitrary. There are ways of structuring society which are inimical to human progress and personal development. The Church calls them "structures of sin". “

The Common Good and the Catholic Church's Social Teaching

      Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, 18-19


… violence against any person is contrary to Jesus' gospel message to "love one another as I have loved you." When violence toward women is tolerated, it helps to set the stage for violent acts against other groups as well.

Bishops’ Committee on Marriage and Family Life

 “When I Call for Help: A Pastoral Response to Domestic Violence Against Women.”

Thoughts for your consideration


Not only are we usually part of immediate and extended families, we are part of the worldwide human family.  The verses from Sirach about care for parents remind us of our responsibility for one another both within our families and within the worldwide human family. The gospel gives us the model of Joseph’s care for his family. The letter to the Colossians spells out the virtues that are part of this care for others.


Catholic Social Teaching affirms the solidarity of all men and women throughout the world.  The violence which threatens the Holy Family and all the children in Bethlehem is an egregious affront to this solidarity. All the violence that we experience in the world today is also an affront to this solidarity.  As we consider the many wars, the countless refugees, the victims of domestic violence, the hunger of hundreds of millions of people, the millions of children without an opportunity for education, the millions of people caught up by human trafficking and slavery, and the greed and selfishness of so many institutions, we are called to return to God’s vision of solidarity and reconciliation. 


In the second reading from the letter to the Colossians we are reminded of the need for those virtues which are the very opposite of violence and oppression. “Put on, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another.”  These virtues are the key if we are to achieve the healing we desire in our families and in the global human family. [If the Holy Family had got stuck in their hatred or anger over the events of their story, they would have never been free enough to go on to Nazareth and start anew.]  Salvation is impossible without forgiveness and reconciliation. 




A note on the longer version of the second reading from Colossians:  Many may prefer to use the shorter version because of various problematic interpretations about wives being submissive to their husbands as we read 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


Outside of your immediate family, who are the people with whom you feel most in solidarity?  How is this solidarity express in your actions?



Have you encountered people who use and abuse the scriptures to justify violence and abuse?

How did you react?  What can we do to help or support those trapped in abusive situations?

Actions - Links


Ø  To read Fr. James Martins’ The War on Christmas is Over ... And Christmas Lost, go to 


Ø  Resources for liturgy and other info about National Migration Week: “Renewing Hope, Seeking Justice,” January 2-8 can be found at the site of the NCCB/USCC Office for Migration and Refugee Services at


Ø  To read Benedict XVI’s message for the World Day of Peace which is 1 January 2011, go to





“Crazy Facts”



"According to a report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, at least twenty-nine states have made cuts to public health programs, twenty-four states have cut programs for the elderly and disabled, twenty-nine states have cut aid to K–12 education, and thirty-nine states have cut assistance to public colleges and universities.


America’s states faced a cumulative budget gap of $166 billion for fiscal 2010. Total shortfalls through fiscal 2011 are estimated at $380 billion—and could be even higher depending on what happens to unemployment. These are massive numbers. But when you remember that we spent $182 billion to bail out AIG ($12.9 billion of which went straight to Goldman Sachs), you realize that this amount alone would be more than enough to close the 2010 budget gap in every state in the Union. Toss in the $45 billion we gave to now-making-a-profit Bank of America and the $45 billion we gave to now-making-a-profit Citigroup, and we would be well on the way to ensuring that no state’s vital services are cut through 2011."

-Arianna Huffington, "Third World America"



Prayers of Intercession


Response:  Lord, guide us to become a family of peace.

For all our families, we pray….

For families experiencing difficulties like poverty, unemployment, violence, or abuse, we pray….

For our local church and for the church throughout the world, we pray….

For those parts of the church experiencing persecution, division, or even violence, we pray….

For our nation and all the nations of the world, we pray….

For all nations trapped by war, violence, terrorism, division, debt, poverty, or oppression of any kind, we pray….

For our planet earth and all its creatures, we pray….

For our planet as it deals with the challenges of climate change and human exploitation of our resources, we pray….




Ø The following is a “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.  Amen.