Dec. 29: Feast of the Holy Family
Readings: Sirach 3: 2-6, 12-14; Psalm 128, Response: Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways.; Colossians 3: 12-21
Gospel: Matthew 2: 13-15, 19-23
In his January 2015 speech to the gathering of families in Manila, Pope Francis said:
“I am very fond of dreams in families … You can’t have a family without dreams. When you lose the capacity to dream, then you lose the capacity to love. And this energy to love is lost … Dreaming is very important. Especially dreaming in families. Do not lose this ability to dream!”
In the same speech, Pope Francis reflects on this Sunday’s Gospel which focuses on Joseph, his three dreams through which he carries out God’s mission for him: “Rise, take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt … Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel.”
As Joseph and his family were making their way to Israel, he was warned, in another dream, to take a detour, which brought him, Mary and Jesus to Nazareth.
Four dreams defined Joseph’s mission, the aforementioned three came after the first dream, which was to take Mary as his wife. With his yes, the family into which Jesus would be born was complete—the Holy Family whose feast we celebrate today.
There are three elements I invite you to reflect on in today’s Gospel. One, the role of dreams in Joseph’s life and mission. Two, how Joseph’s fulfillment of his mission helped Jesus fulfill his own mission. Three, how the family is the seedbed of dreams and mission.
Our dreams lead us to what God wants us to do. Dreams set our life within a horizon that allows us to live a life of meaning, purpose and mission.
It is a call to rise above the usual and the normal of our day-to-day life toward the sublime and the noble that will give shape to a better future.
Our “yes” sets us on a journey, a journey that at one and the same time brings Jesus into the world and makes us his companions, as Joseph’s “yes” brings Jesus into his Holy Family and accompanies him during the early and dangerous period of his life.
Joseph’s dreams and his “yes” to these dreams allowed Jesus’ mission to take shape. The prophecies about the Savior were to be fulfilled with the help of Joseph.
Jesus was to be of the house and lineage of Joseph’s ancestor David. “Out of Egypt I called my son … He shall be called a Nazorean.” Joseph saying “yes” in his dreams to his mission helped make Jesus’ mission possible, for the prophecies to be fulfilled.
Justice, peace, joy, love
We, too, can help continue and fulfill Jesus’ mission to establish his Father’s Kingdom in the world. It is our mission lived out within the horizon of our dreams and in the realities of our life and situation, the mission to establish his Kingdom of Justice and Peace, of Joy and Love.
Joseph’s “yes” completed the Holy Family and it is this family that nurtured Jesus’ own dreams. As Pope Francis put it: “You can’t have a family without dreams. When you lose the capacity to dream, then you lose the capacity to love.”
Joseph’s dreams and Mary’s dreams made possible the formation of the Holy Family with their “yes” to God’s dream and mission for them to be father and mother of the Savior.
It was their love for their Son, Jesus, that made it possible for Jesus to dream and discover his own mission, discover his authentic self and his life mission.
So it is in our families. Our families must be communities of love that will nurture each member’s dreams and lead them to their mission—discover the authentic self and God’s mission. This is what the Feast of the Holy Family reminds us and assures us of.
Families are to love its members into excellence, the best of who each one can be. When everything is said and done, the best of who we can be is to be the most loving person we can be. Excellence is becoming a loving person and loving others into excellence.
Their love for their Son, Jesus, made him love with a great love that earned for us the gift of the Cross and Resurrection.
It is a gift that inspires us to be loving persons because of how much Jesus loved us, “[he] loved me and gave himself up for me.” (Galatians 2: 20)
Fr. Horacio dela Costa, S.J. said in one of his Christmas homilies: “We were promised a savior, but we never dreamed God Himself would come and save us. We know that He loved us, but we never dared to think that He loved us so much as to become one of us.”
This is the dream, this is the love our families can be blessed with. By nurturing dreams and love in our families, God will come and be one of us in our families, thus making our families holy like Jesus, Mary and Joseph’s family.
This is what today’s feast reminds us of. This is the grace that the feast promises.