• Wartakanlah Injil kepada segala makhluk.
    Mrk 16:15

  • 你们往普天下去, 向一切受造物宣传福音
    谷 16:15

  • Everything is possible by the power of the Holy Spirit’s Grace.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • Segala sesuatu menjadi mungkin dalam kekuatan karunia Roh Kudus.
    St. Arnold Janssen

  • 我当传教士不是为主牺牲,而是上主给我的最大恩赐
    圣福若瑟神父

  • Với sức mạnh Ân Huệ của Chúa Thánh Thần, Mọi việc đều có thể được.
    St Arnoldus Janssen

  • Preach the Gospel to the whole creation./Anh em hãy đi khắp tứ phương thiên hạ, loan báo Tin Mừng cho mọi loài thọ tạo
    Mk 16:15

  • There are many different gifts, but it is always the same Spirit.
    1 Cor 12:4

  • And the Word became flesh and lived among us.
    Jn 1:14

  • Let the word of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you.
    Col 3:16

  • To proclaim the Good News is the first and greatest act of love of neighbour.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • 传扬天国福音是第一且最大的爱近人行动
    圣杨生•爱诺德神父

  • Có nhiều đặc sủng khác nhau, nhưng chỉ có một Thần Khí/
    1 Cor. 14:4

  • 圣言成了血肉,寄居在我们中间
    若 1:14

  • Ada rupa-rupa karunia, tetapi Roh satu
    1 Kor 12:4

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Wednesday, 23 December 2020 18:08

The Feast of the Holy Family - 2020

Written by Fr Larry Nemer SVD

Fr Larry Nemer SVD 150

As a child in our parish school I can remember how every time our parish priest would visit us just before Christmas he would come with a hand full of Holy Cards.  We would go up one by one, receive the card, kiss his hand and say “God bless you” in Polish. Over the years I can still remember the pictures on three of the cards of the Holy Family he gave us at Christmas time – Joseph, Mary and Jesus fleeing to Egypt on a mule and the baby Jesus miraculously producing grapes for them to eat, Mary sitting with a book open and the young boy Jesus standing by her knee being taught how to read, and Joseph working in his carpenter shop with the young Jesus and Jesus making little crosses.  It was only later in the seminary that I came to realise that these images of the Holy Family probably could not be further from the truth about the Holy Family as we know them from the Gospels.

Our Scripture lecturer told us that Joseph and Mary would have come from poor families, which is why Jesus was born in such poverty.  He said we were not sure of it, but Joseph, Mary, and Jesus probably lived in Bethlehem for a while after Jesus’ birth until they had to flee for their lives when Herod ordered all babies in Bethlehem under two years of age to be killed (Herod was always afraid of losing his throne and killed anyone he thought a danger. He even killed his wife whom he loved!).  Thus Joseph, Mary and Jesus became poor asylum seekers, seeking safety in Egypt where they knew no one.  When at the urging of an angel they returned to Israel they did not go to Bethlehem but to Nazareth, a safe place far from kings but full of extended family.  They lived a poor, simple life, since Joseph would often have to travel to find work.  Jesus did not learn to read from Mary because Mary would most probably have been illiterate, nor would He have learned carpentry skills from Joseph (He was known as “the carpenter’s son”, not as the carpenter).  He might very well have been a difficult and independent child, as we see from his staying in Jerusalem after his parents left.  He also was a passionate man, so much so that at one point Mary wanted to bring him home because she thought he was having a break-down.

Christmas Holy Family 350So what makes them a “Holy Family”?  I think it was their willingness to accept with faith whatever happened to them, retaining their trust in God, even in the face of danger, and their obvious love and care for one another.  That is what it means to be a Holy Family. 

Once I realised that, I knew that I had met many families in the course of my ministry who would qualify for being a Holy Family.  The first family that made me think differently about who is a Holy Family was a family that used to come to the Seminary with their seven children for Mass on Sunday.  I would talk to them often.  After I was ordained they invited me to come and bless their home.  They lived in an expensive suburb, and they must have seen the surprise on my face when I walked in and saw no carpeting and only the simplest of furniture.  The mother explained to me: “We thought it was more important that the children go to a Catholic school than to have good furniture in our home.”  Over the years I got to know the family well.  I celebrated the wedding of one daughter and accompanied one other in the closing months before she died of cancer.  The training the children received from their parents taught them to accept what God gave them and to love and support one another at all times.  They truly were a Holy Family.

But the family that taught me even more about what it means to be a Holy Family is a family I met when the wife was pregnant with her fifth child.  Her first child had been born with serious brain damage, the second was normal in every way, the third had slight brain damage as did the fourth.  I told her that I admired her faith. I asked if they had ever tried to find the reason for the brain damage.  She said that she and her husband talked about it but they were concerned that they might then either hate or at least blame the other partner.  She laughed and said: “We are happy with whoever God gives us”. I gave her a relic of St. Lawrence to carry with her through the fifth pregnancy and both her fifth and sixth child were born normal. She and her husband truly accepted each of their children as a loving gift from God, and so all the children grew up with the same faith and trust in God and a deep love for one another. They too truly were a Holy Family.

Last modified on Wednesday, 23 December 2020 18:15