Photo illustration by Phil Younk
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Holy family is model of faith for families
Based on Mal 3:1-4; Heb 2:14-18; Lk 2:22-40
This Sunday we go back to Jesus’ childhood – the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. In older observances of the church year, this feast, 40 days after Christmas, was the formal end of the celebration of Jesus’ birth. At those times, the feast was known as the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary and centered on Mary observing the Jewish legal requirements for purification after having had a baby.
The Prophet Malachi speaks of a messenger to prepare the Day of the Lord. New Testament texts identify the messenger as John the Baptist. Malachi also speaks of the Lord coming to the temple. Today’s feast celebrates that coming and what his presence means.
The second reading explains that Jesus, true God and true Man, was sent into the world to suffer and die to destroy sin. He rose from the dead and ascended into heaven where, at the right hand of the Father, he intercedes and waits for us. To gain heaven, we must persevere in our faith and stay faithful to him.
In the Gospel, Joseph and Mary journey to the temple in Jerusalem to fulfill the Mosaic Law for purification by offering two turtledoves. Simeon, a holy man devoted to prayer, meets them.
Filled with the Holy Spirit, it was revealed to him that he would see the Messiah before he died. Simeon takes the child Jesus into his arms and joyfully begins to sing. His song, the “Nunc Dimittis” (Now, Master, dismiss your servant) was composed out of love for Jesus.
Turning to Mary, Simeon predicts that Jesus as Messiah will encounter much difficulty in his lifetime, and that she will experience deep sorrow along with her son.
Then, Anna, a widow and old prophetess, with a beaming smile and outstretched arms, embraces Joseph and Mary and praises God for their child Jesus.
What makes the Holy Family holy? Despite the confusing, messy, frightening and disturbing circumstances they had to endure, they were people of faith who had God at the center of their lives. They honored God and were obedient to his directions. The Holy Family is a model of faith for all families.