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The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph -Year C

26 December, 2021

-To be celebrated on 26th December 2021-

Gospel reading  Luke 2:41-52

v 41 Every year his parents used to go to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover.
v 42
When he was twelve years old, they went up for the feast as usual.
v 43
When they were on their way home after the feast, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem without his parents knowing it.
v 44 They assumed he was with the caravan, and it was only after a day’s journey that they went to look for him among their relations and acquaintances.
v 45When they failed to find him they went back to Jerusalem looking for him everywhere.

Jesus teaching in templeV 46Three days later, they found him in the Temple, sitting among the doctors, listening to them, and asking them questions;
v 47 and all those who heard him were astounded at his intelligence and his replies.
v 48They were overcome when they saw him, and his mother said to him, “My child, why have you done this to us? See how worried your father and I have been, looking for you.”
v 49  “Why were you looking for me?” he replied.
“Did you not know that I must be busy with my Father’s affairs?”
v 50
But they did not understand what he meant.
v 51. He then went down with them and came to Nazareth and lived under their authority. His mother stored up all these things in her heart.
v 52.  And Jesus increased in wisdom, in stature, and in favour with God and men.

We have four commentators available from whom you may wish to choose . Scroll down to the name of the commentator.

Michel DeVerteuil :     A Trinidadian Holy Ghost Priest, director of the Centre of Biblical renewal .
Thomas O’Loughlin:  Professor of Historical Theology, University of Nothampton.
Sean Goan:                   Studied scripture in Rome, Jerusalem and Chicago and teaches at Blackrock College and works with the Le Chéile Schools.
Donal Neary SJ: 
Editor of The Sacred Heart Messenger and National Director of The Apostlship of Prayer.


Michel de Verteuil
Lectio Divina, The Year of Luke

General comments

Here is a highly symbolic story. We can read it from Jesus’ point of view or from that of his parents.
We can divide the story into two parts –
verses 41 to 50, and
verses 51 and 52
– and meditate on each separately.  Taken together, however, and understood as complementing each other, they give us a balanced picture of the role of authority in human life.

Scriptural Prayer Reflection

Lord, we pray today for all those involved in the work of education
– parents, teachers, youth leaders, church ministers.
Young people come to stay with us and live under our authority for a time,
Increasing in wisdom, in stature and in favour with you and with men and women.
But they are not ours.
You are their father and they must be busy about your affairs.
Some have unusual vocations – in the Church perhaps, or in the arts, or in politics.
At times we will feel we have lost them
and we will be overcome with worry as we spend days looking for them.
Then, quite unexpectedly, we find them, at ease in your temple, asking and answering questions,
quite surprised that we should be looking for them,
while we remain perplexed at what it all means.
Lord, bringing up children is a lofty calling;
Help us, like Mary and Joseph, to be faithful to it.

It may be that the salvation of the world lies with the maladjusted.” …Martin Luther King

Lord, there are times in life when we must step out on our own,
knowing that dear ones will be very worried, looking for us,
wanting to bring us back to Nazareth where we can be subject to them.
Give us the grace to commit ourselves, like Jesus, to what we know to be our Father’s business.

“The Church must be concerned not just with herself and her relationship of union with God, but with human beings as they really are today.” Pope Paul VI concluding the Second Vatican Council, Dec. 1965

As a Church we tend to remain within our concerns,
safe in Nazareth where we know the rules of the game,
who is subject to whom, and we can feel sure we are growing in wisdom, in stature,and in favour with God and with the influential people in society.

Top10IssuesWe pray that your Church may take the risk of being lost for days at a time,
even though its leaders are overcome with worry,
so that Jesus can be among the learned people of our time,
listening to them and asking them questions,
and modern generations, like previous ones, can be astounded
by the wisdom of his message and of the replies he brings to the many top issues of our time.

“Only one ship is seeking us, a black-sailed unfamiliar, towing at her back a huge and birdless silence. In her wake no waters breed or break.”West Indian poem

Lord, when we are young we have lofty goals for ourselves.
We are in Jerusalem, at the centre of things,
questioning the wisdom of our day
and astounding all by the intelligence of our replies.
Then another time comes when we find ourselves stagnant,
not going anywhere or achieving anything,
subject to the conventions and prejudices of society.
Teach us, Lord, that this too is a necessary stage
when, like Jesus in Nazareth, we can increase in wisdom,
in stature and in favour with you.


 Thomas O’Loughlin
Liturgical Resources for Advent and Christmastide

Introduction to the Celebration

Jesus the coreWe gather here each Sunday and call each other sisters and brothers, we exchange the sign of peace as if we are all one family, and we offer thanks and prayers to God the Father as our Father. We can do this because we are a family of faith, adopted as children of God through our brother Jesus the Christ. So today we reflect that Jesus has made us family through his becoming a member of a human family: the holy family of Nazareth.

Homily Notes

1. One of the differences between being a follower of the Christ and being a follower of a philosophy or a religious guru is that we are devoted to a person, not to a set of ideas. We are interested in Jesus because he is the truth, not simply because he is the messenger. Jesus hugsFor Christians the messenger is the mes­sage; and the messenger is Jesus. We believe we are brought into the Father’s kingdom by the Son, not because we adhere to anything that might be said to be Jesus’s religious wisdom. Indeed, when one counts up the verses in the gospels that could be said to be Jesus’s teaching, and compare it with the number devoted to his life and the events of his life, it be­comes abundantly clear that the kerygma is about the person of Jesus, of which what he taught is just a part. God’s ulti­mate revelation is a person, and not either a set of instruc­tions or a body of philosophy. I am always surprised at the reaction of non-Christians (and indeed of fundamentalist Christians who think of God’s revelation as ‘the bible’) when I ask them to bear in mind that Jesus is the only founder of a major religion who left no writings – and indeed that the only reference we have to his writing anything was with his finger in sand and we do not know what he wrote! The reac­tion is usually one of complete shock: how can you found a great world religion and not write a book of wisdom. The nearest we come is a collection of sayings written down by his followers of which we have only an indirect record and over which we have been arguing as to the form and mean­ing ever since.

2. If it is the person that is the message, then at no point is this more obviously the case than when Jesus was an infant, long before he could be a wise, kind rabbi able to lead a band of disciples. Such devotion to the infant Saviour has been a fea­ture of Christianity down the centuries. It must have been al­ready present at the time Matthew preached his gospel (last decades of the first century) for he has the magi offer gifts to the infant and fall down and worship the infant. We see it even more plainly in the second century with the Protoevangelium of James, and it continues right up to the early twentieth century with devotions such as to the Infant of Prague or in religious names such as St Therese of the Child Jesus. It has fallen below the horizon in recent decades for a variety of reasons, yet it is in devotion to the infant we see some of the basic themes of our christology. Today is one day in the liturgical year when this theme of devotion to the child Jesus can be explored while being in harmony with the over­all theme of day.

3. We worship Jesus because in his humanity – humanity with all the vulnerability of a child – we see our saviour. The in­fant’s coming among us is the good news of God being close to his people. Jesus is Emmanuel. We as his disciples, with our strength and wisdom and riches, must be prepared to lay it at his feet.


4. We can romantically idealise childhood or we can see child­hood as really only the privation of adulthood. Most societies tend towards the latter view; contemporary western society tends toward the romanticisation of childhood. Devotion to the child Jesus is neither one nor other of these attitudes, but the recognition in prayer that God came among us in every aspect of our humanity. Jesus is our gateway to the Father, not some set of abstractions or practices that we claim to de­rive from him.

5. It is easy to visit the crib if we do so to show it off to the child­ren: the children wonder at the magical scene, the parents enjoy their children’s wonder. It is much harder for us as adults to recapture the wonder of the crib as a visible expres­sion of the wonder of the incarnation:
In the wonder of the incarnation, your eternal Word has brought to the eyes of faith a new and radiant vision of your glory. In him we see our God made visible And so are caught up in the love of the God we cannot see.’

6. It is easy to bring the children ‘to see the crib’; it is much harder for us to pray there – for the crib to cease to be a sim­ple model and for it to become an icon to focus our worship. Yet unless we can find the means to pray at the crib – a phys­ical reality functioning sacramentally – and there worship the child Jesus, we cannot discover true humility, nor under­stand the adult Jesus when he said: Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the king­dom of God like a child shall not enter it’ (Mk 10:14-5/ Lk 18­16-17).


Sean Goan
Let the Reader Understand

Gospel: Luke 2:41-52
The story of Jesus being lost in the Temple is, like the story of his birth, all about his identity. At the age of twelve as a Jewish boy Jesus would have celebrated his bar mitzvah. Jesus, teenagerThis meant he was allowed to read the scriptures in the synagogue and was recog­nised as taking his place among the community of adult men. As such it was right that he should go Jerusalem for Passover, but what unfolded there was an indication that his life would be given over to doing the will of his Father. For Mary this is another stage in her relationship with her son and another invitation to ponder how God is at work in her life.


In a changing world, where the very notion of the family is under so much pressure, it is appropriate during the Christmas season to celebrate this feast. Some may ask, however, what can the image of Holy Family of Nazareth say to the modern world and to parents struggling in this climate of change? The women in today’s readings teach us a timeless lesson about faith in ac­tion. Both Hannah and Mary knew the experience of hardship and rejection, yet in all the circumstances of their lives they put their trust in God and acted according to his word. The second reading reminds us that the most potent image of God’s love is that of the parent for the child. We are the children of God and the place where we live that out first and foremost is in our fam­ilies. Samuel and Jesus learned all about self-giving from their parents.


Donal Neary, S.J.
Gospel reflections for Sundays of year C: Luke

Jesus played his part in family life in NazarethVarious aspects of family life are highlighted in the readings today. They are chosen with family life in mind – the old, the young and the child – and in praise of family life with both Elkanah and Hannah,
and then
Mary and Joseph coming close to God in their family life. Today is a day in praise of family marriage, sexuality, birth and of prayer for families. And in the family we learn about God – more by example than by words.Most families manage well even in times of stress. Daily and ordinary love can overcome a lot else.

While praising the great efforts of parents today, and the strong family life which exists among us, we also look at contemporary problems:
the stresses on the one-parent family; children unsure of the commitment of the parents;
the effects of divorce on the children, and
admitting that marriage breakup has a confusing or damaging effect on children;
the long life of elderly who are very ill and require a lot of loving but difficult attention;
the effects of addiction to drugs and alcohol; prison and crime.

Faith, prayer, Mass and the Church can bring us through a lot in bad days. Some prayer at night or in the morning, before a meal or leaving the house; Mass, and including prayer at high points of family life are ways of including prayer in family life. Family is the school of faith and the place of God in the ordinary everyday world.

‘Jesus, Mary and Joseph, help us in our family life. ‘
c/f ]n. 1:1-18