Lectionary Reflections for Feast of the Holy Family, Dec. 29, 2013

Engaging Faith | Thu, Dec 26, 2013

By John Bucki, SJ
Source: Center of Concern

Lectionary Reflections for Feast of the Holy Family, Dec. 29, 2013

Feast of the Holy Family [c]

Dec. 29, 2013



Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14  

Colossians 3:12-21 or 3:12-17 (See note below.)

Luke 2:41-52



Dec. 26 – January 1: Kwanza

Dec. 28: Feast of the Holy Innocents

Jan. 1: World Day of Prayer for Peace

Jan. 1: Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God

Jan.5: Epiphany of the Lord (Catholic)

Jan. 6: Epiphany of the Lord (Greek Orthodox)

Jan. 5-11: National Migration Week

Jan. 7: Orthodox Christmas Day



“Learning to practice the virtue of solidarity means that ‘loving our neighbor’ has global dimensions in an interdependent world.”

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: “Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions”


“If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation.”

Pope Benedict XVI, “Message for World Day of Peace,” Jan. 1, 2010


 “To overcome today's individualistic mentality, a concrete commitment to solidarity and charity is needed, beginning in the family.”

      Pope John Paul II, “Centesimus Annus” (The Hundredth Year), No. 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.”

Pope John XXIII, Mater et Magistra, No. 157


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

Pope Benedict XVI, World Day for Peace, Jan. 1, 2008

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“… [V]iolence 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.”

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Marriage and Family Life

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


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 themself.


We find at least four levels of solidarity in the Gospel story – 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 caravan of people. Jesus and the caravan 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 year ago 27 families in Newtown, Conn., were radically changed as they experienced tragic deaths to their loved ones. In the year since Newtown, at least 24 school shootings have claimed at least 17 lives, according to a Daily Beast investigation. In the United States it is estimated that (not counting suicides) more than 10,000 people have been killed by guns in the last year. Violence, especially gun violence touches families in our country.


Our Scriptures challenge us to grow in solidarity and mutual love in our domestic communities, in our local communities, in our national community, and in our worldwide community. May God help us to work to end violence and abuse and to heal all the hurts.



A note on the longer version of the second reading from Colossians:  Many may prefer to use the shorter version from Colossians because of various problematic interpretations about wives


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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 world?




1. Share an example in your experience of growing up when you were taught the value of being concerned with more than your individual good, that is, the common good.

2. Name a concrete sign of your actions in solidarity with the neediest parts of the world.


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 have you responded?  What can we do to help or support those trapped in abusive situations?



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A writer arrived at the monastery to write a book about the Master.

“People say you are a genius. Are you?” he asked.

“You might say so,” the Master said, none too modestly.

“And what makes one a genius?”

“The ability to recognize.”

“Recognize what?”

“The butterfly in a caterpillar; the eagle in an egg; the saint in a selfish human being.”


Actions - Links


World Day of Peace

Fraternity: The Foundation and Pathway to Peace

Go to to read the message of Pope Francis for the World Day of Peace for Jan. 1, 2014. 

Fraternity is an essential human quality, for we are relational beings. A lively awareness of our relatedness helps us to look upon and to treat each person as a true sister or brother; without fraternity it is impossible to build a just society and a solid and lasting peace. We should remember that fraternity is generally first learned in the family, thanks above all to the responsible and complementary roles of each of its members, particularly the father and the mother. The family is the wellspring of all fraternity, and as such it is the foundation and the first pathway to peace, since, by its vocation, it is meant to spread its love to the world around it.


Abuse of Domestic Workers

Human Rights Watch reports that in our world “Tens of millions of women and girls around the world are employed as domestic workers in private households. They clean, cook, care for children, look after elderly family members, and perform other essential tasks for their employers. Despite their important role, they are among the most exploited and abused workers in the world. They often work 14 to 18 hours a day, seven days a week, for wages far below the minimum wage. They may be locked within their workplace and subject to physical and sexual violence. Children and migrant domestic workers are often the most vulnerable.”  Find out more at



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“Crazy facts”


More than 11,000 children are thought to have died in the civil war in Syria. Most of those have died in the last two years, according to the Oxford Research Group in London.




The number of children and teens killed by guns in one year in the United States would fill 134 classrooms of 20 students each.   Children’s Defense Fund’s “We Can Do Better, Protect Children, Not Guns 2013” 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.

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, abuse and suffering today, we pray…

For the families affected by war, especially refuge families in and around Syria, 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…






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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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Vatican Pope Easter



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