Reading I: Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 128: 1-5
Reading II: Colossians 3: 12-21
Gospel: Matthew 2:13-15
The Church has designated in the last days of our calendar year nestled among the holy feasts and festivities a special time to reflect on our most basic societal unit, the family. How fitting to call our attention here as our families are often together and perhaps face some stressful situations with on another. The designated readings take us through so many crucial aspects involved with family living. In Sirach we are instructed to honor, revere, comfort, care for and not to revile them. In the reading from Colossians St. Paul encourages us to “put on,” that is, have in our readiness to share with others, heartfelt compassion, kindness, gentleness, patience and forgiveness.
Who among us does not want to be so regarded and treated by our families? An important follow up or prior question might be who of us endeavor to treat or regard our family members thusly? I can hear the beautiful cadences of the Prayer of St. Francis ringing so clearly…for it is in giving that we receive and in pardoning that we are pardoned. The Babe in Bethlehem enters our human family to source us with divine essence and presence to live as a Holy Family with all of creation.
The Gospel reading relates the harrowing story of the holy family’s escape into Egypt. Yes, Joseph chose refugee status in a foreign land to protect his precious family. We can only imagine the challenging conditions endured on the journey and living in a strange land; only to endure a return journey to a different home. Did they find welcome? Were they reviled? Where did they find family?
God of our human family, as Joseph, Mary and Jesus were immigrants in Egypt and later in Nazareth, help us to remember the many immigrants who are unsettled, afraid, and unwelcomed. Grant that we expand our notion of family to include the least of our brothers and sisters. Open our hearts to all those in need of knowing they belong in a family and are cherished for the sacred presence they are.
Marty Kollstedt, Associate