December 26: Holy Family. Readings: 1. 1 Samuel 1:20-22,24-28; Psalm: 128; 2. 1 John 3:1-2,21-24; Gospel: Luke 2:41-52.
Today’s feast, with its special readings, reminds us that, as people of faith, we belong to a long, revealing story of God’s presence among us.
The text from First Samuel introduces us to Hannah, and her simple trust that God will hear her heartfelt prayer for a son. And at that son’s birth, Hannah acknowledges that he is a precious gift, so much so that she offers him back to the Lord to do whatever he wills with him. Thus, Samuel becomes a key player in the evolving story of God’s plan, recorded throughout the Bible.
What we hear next in 1 John sets our sights on Jesus, the Son of God, who, in his earthly life, taught his followers to live according to the commandment of love. This biblical author is therefore directing us to be loyal children of God who have been initiated into a deep spiritual bond with the heavenly Father. Everything about our lives is thus cast in the light of a lasting awareness of the divine presence that accompanies us.
For our enlightenment, Luke’s Gospel story paints an interesting picture of the adolescent Jesus within the context of his relationship with Mary and Joseph. Seeing Jesus sitting among the teachers in the temple, instead of returning home to Nazareth with his parents, foreshadows his mission as God the Father’s unique agent. And a bit later, after exchanging frank words – and perhaps somewhat surprisingly – Jesus obediently accompanies his parents to Nazareth to mature in their care.
Through these readings, it is the biblical view of family, and God’s part in the well-being of family members, that leaps from the pages of Scripture. This Holy Family image is one that we need to take to heart in order to live the kind of life God wills us to lead.