Feast of the Holy Family, December 28, 2014

Engaging Faith | Tue, Dec 23, 2014

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

Feast of the Holy Family, December 28, 2014

Copyright © 2014 Center of Concern


Genesis 15:1-6; 21:1-3 or Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14

Hebrews 11:8, 11-12, 17-19 or Colossians 3:12-21 or Colossians 3:12-17 (See note below.)

Luke 2:22-40 or Luke 2:22, 39-40



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 4: Epiphany of the Lord 

January 4-10: 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 


“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


“… 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


… 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.”


It is so important to listen! Husbands and wives need to communicate to bring happiness and serenity to family life. 

- Pope Francis @Pontifex , Dec 16, 2014


Thoughts for your consideration

On this Holy Family Sunday, the scriptures invite us to think big and to have a big faith and a broad vision, no matter how impossible or difficult things seem to be.  Abraham and Sarah are childless and landless, but they are invited to believe that great things will happen and a great nation will come about.  Mary and Joseph bring an ordinary infant into the temple, and Simeon and Anna can see that something great is going on “a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel."


We may each feel that we are just ordinary individuals with little power to do anything, but our faith tells us that great things can happen.  We can make a difference, we can act with righteousness, and we can do what is right and be a light to the world. Even our ordinary family life can make a difference in the world.


We may feel that there is little we can do to make a difference in the face of social injustice and overwhelming problems.   We have feel that we have no control over the forces of our economy and injustices in our world.  We may feel that the forces that create wars and violence are unstoppable.  We may feel that the rights of the poor and powerless will never be respected.  We may feel that woman and children will never be treated as they should be.  However, as “the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him,” so we can grow in strength and wisdom and put into practice the challenge of our social teaching.  We can do great things and live prophetic lives in our 21st Century.  Think big and have faith!


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.

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 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

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.


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?



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", said the Master, 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." 


Check out two stories about “cracked vessels at:


Actions - Links

World Day of Peace: No longer slaves, but brothers and sisters

Go to to read the message of Pope Francis for the World Day of Peace for 1 January 2015.  

I pray for an end to wars, conflicts and the great suffering caused by human agency, by epidemics past and present, and by the devastation wrought by natural disasters. I pray especially that, on the basis of our common calling to cooperate with God and all people of good will for the advancement of harmony and peace in the world, we may resist the temptation to act in a manner unworthy of our humanity.


Polaris Project: efforts to eradicate modern slavery

“Modern slavery is a multi-billion dollar criminal industry that denies freedom to 20.9 million people around the world. And no matter where you live, chances are it’s happening right down the street. From the girl forced into prostitution at a truck stop, to the man discovered in a restaurant kitchen, stripped of his passport and held against his will.  Polaris, named after the North Star that guided slaves to freedom in the U.S., disrupts the conditions that allow human trafficking to thrive in our society.” Find out more and take online actions at  


USCCB Anti-Trafficking Program

See especially the two page handout at:

Find out about the shepherd campaign at


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 


“Crazy facts”

 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime.

 More than 60% of domestic violence incidents happen at home.

 Women ages 20 to 24 are at greatest risk of becoming victims of domestic violence.

 More than 4 million women experience physical assault and rape by their partners.

 1 in 3 homicide victims are murdered by her current or former partner every year.

 More than 3 million children witness domestic violence in their homes every year.

- See more at:


The International Labor Organization estimates that there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking globally, including 5.5 million children. 55% are women and girls. 


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….


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. Amen.