Today is a beautiful feast day, on the Sunday following Christmas Day we usually celebrate the feast of the Holy Family. The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph are a model for us all to aspire to.

Jesus the Son of God and Son of Man, the child who knew his own mind and gave his mother things to store in her heart. Jesus always did the will of his Father, he never erred away from God’s will. Like us he was tempted, every time he was tempted, he prayed for strength and was helped to continue to do the will of his Father. We need to remember that when we are tempted or facing a trial in life to turn to God, just like Jesus did and pray for the strength to succeed.

Mary the gentle mother, Mary who was given to the world as our Mother by Jesus in his last few breaths. We are encouraged to be like the disciple Jesus loved and take Mary into our homes and into our hearts. Mothers are encouraged to model their motherhood on the Virgin Mary, treasure all of the things your children do and ponder them in your hearts. Be there for their most precious moments, encourage them in their prayer life, encourage them to learn and to succeed in the calling God has for them.

St Joseph, the protector of Jesus, who brought Jesus up as his own son, the kindly father and husband. In a new Apostolic Letter entitled Patris corde(“With a Father’s Heart”), Pope Francis describes Saint Joseph as a beloved father, a tender and loving father, an obedient father, an accepting father; a father who is creatively courageous, a working father, a father in the shadows.

The Letter marks the 150th anniversary of Blessed Pope Pius IX’s declaration of St Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church. To celebrate the anniversary, Pope Francis has proclaimed a special “Year of St Joseph,” beginning on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception 2020 and extending to the same feast in 2021.

The Holy Father wrote Patris corde against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, which, he says, has helped us see more clearly the importance of “ordinary” people who, though far from the limelight, exercise patience and offer hope every day. In this, they resemble Saint Joseph, “the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence,” who nonetheless played “an incomparable role in the history of salvation.”1

In today’s reading we hear that God delivers on his promises, in the first reading God promises Abram that he will be a father and that his descendants will be as many as the stars in the heavens., the psalm reinforces this with the words that God ‘remembers his covenant for ever.’

The writer of the letter to the Hebrews recalls the promise made to Abram now called Abraham and his wife Sarah and how God delivered on his promise as a reward for the faith Abraham and Sarah showed to God. The author also recalls that Abraham trusted in God so much that he was prepared to sacrifice his only son when God requested him to. Remembering that passage from Genesis we would all do well to remember and perhaps use as our mission the words of Abraham to his son Isaac when he asked where is the lamb for sacrifice? “God will provide (Gen 22:8).”

Our Gospel also has God delivering on a promise, this time to Simeon, who had been told he will not die until he had seen the Christ. When he was prompted to be at the temple at the same time as the Holy Family, he saw the Christ child and praised God loudly with the baby Jesus in his arms.

These readings all reward those with faith, those who have put their trust in God, we are encouraged to trust in God, be faithful to Christ’s teachings, because our God delivers on his promises.

As we reach the end of the year, a year which has been very different from any other year in living memory. We look back and remember. We remember those who helped to form us, some of whom may no longer be with us. We thank God for the parents who brought us into the world. They may have been saints who modelled themselves on the Holy Family, or they may have been flawed, with so many issues to deal with that they couldn’t look after themselves, never mind a child. Or they may have been somewhere in between. We thank God for helping us to find Him, and allowing us to become part of His Family.

We remember those who we may have lost touch with, who are part of our family in some way, we pray that they are well and that God continues to look after them. We pray for the courage to be the one to reach out to any estranged family members, to be the ones to turn the other cheek to those who have hurt us and to seek forgiveness for any harm we may have done. I pray that as 2020 draws to a close and we welcome in 2021, that all families will be happy families, that all relationships will be healthy relationships and that all those who work to care for and protect us will be granted the care and protection of God.

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • All families who are grieving, all families who are apart, all families who are worried about the future.
  • All those who are sick at this time.
  • That all who have left their families to find a place of safety find suitable refuge and that all who need to be aware they are safe, are made aware.
  • All who are adversely affected by the new Covid restrictions.

Deacon Tony Darroch, 26th December 2020.

1 Vatican News available from Pope Francis proclaims “Year of St Joseph” – Vatican News, accessed 26th December 2020