Homily on the Feast of “The Holy Family” 2017 Year B
Genesis 15:1-6; 21:1-3; Hebrews 11:8, 11-12, 17-19; Luke 2:22-40
Dearly Beloved, at the end of every year, before a new one begins, the church gives this feast of “The Holy Family”. The family of Joseph, Mary and Jesus is a model for all families. Like all families, they had their share of sorrows, anxieties, misfortunes, difficulties etc. But with deep faith and trust in God, they did not just survive but rather overcame the chaos that surrounded their lives. It is true that the challenges they faced may be different from what families today go through, but the church reminds us today, regardless of the challenges that families are facing today, deep faith and trust in God is the answer to survival and true freedom.
Today, more than ever, there are a wide range of challenges confronting families. We can think of abuses in various forms, poverty, families who have migrated and do not have the right documents to attract the right kind of job and be paid appropriately, families who for the same reasons can’t access good health care and other benefits. Families with poor health, addictions in alcohol, drugs and pornography, communications problems between some members, unexpected divorce, grieving as a result of the loss of a member, the news of a child who wants to transition from one gender to the other, that family member who is living a homosexual lifestyle. Members who have attempted suicide on some occasions, one spouse who lives far apart because of the nature of their jobs, children who do not feel loved at home and so seek love outside the family. These and many more are the realities confronting families today. Just pause and think for a moment, from the beginning of the year until now what has been the major issue in your family that threatens its unity and survival? Is there a solution? Yes, of course.
Amidst all these challenges, the church gives us our readings today for our reflection. Can you observe how interestingly our first readings from Genesis combine verses from chapters 15 and 21 to give us a beautiful picture. The details however are not as simple and beautiful. The focus of our first reading from the book of Genesis and second reading from the letter to the Hebrews is on Abraham. Abraham left his own country to follow the Lord with the reward of numerous descendants. Abraham and Sarah grew old without ever having a child; he continues to trust. In the whole of scripture, if there was anyone with legitimate reasons to doubt God, that should be Abraham. But he chose to trust amidst the odds and chaos that surrounded his relationship with God. Just follow these timelines of God’s promises to him.
He was 75years old when he first heard these words … From a voice he had no idea. (from the book of Genesis)
12 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
2 “I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.[a]
4 So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran.
After 10years when he was 85, again this was said to him …
15 The word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying:
"Fear not, Abram!
I am your shield;
I will make your reward very great."
After another 14 years have passed, the message was said to him again.
17 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. 2 Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”
15 God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. 16 I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.”
Then in the story of the three angels who visited their camp in Mamre:
18 13 Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”
Abraham had one promise after another for 25years before this …
The LORD took note of Sarah as he had said he would;
he did for her as he had promised.
Sarah became pregnant and bore Abraham a son in his old age,
at the set time that God had stated.
Abraham gave the name Isaac to this son of his whom Sarah bore him.
Dearly beloved, is your family going through a bad time now? I know in such moments, you would want to trust God, but at the same time you wonder how God might bring about the fulfillment of His promise. All because nothing in your mind adds up. You begin to think; assuming God wants to change things, the factors and variables to make it possible are all not there. Your fears in such instance may be legitimate and logical. However, it is for this very reason that you have this story of Abraham and how God journeyed with him to guide you. All the odds were against him.
I pray that you have the faith of Abraham going into the next year. Do not leave anything to chance but rather to the great divine plan. Pray together, read and share the word of God together, encourage church attendance not only on Sundays; the time you have to chat with those family away from home, ask about God and church. And believe me, however long it takes, God will always do what he has said he will do.