25 December 2010

'He rose, took the child and his mother . . .' The Holy Family, Year A, 26 December 2010.

The Flight into Egypt, oil on copper, Cigoli, c.1608

Readings (New American Bible, used in the Philippines and the USA)

Gospel (Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23)

When the magi had departed, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt,
and stay there until I tell you.
Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night
and departed for Egypt.
He stayed there until the death of Herod,
that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled,
Out of Egypt I called my son.

When Herod had died, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream
to Joseph in Egypt and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel,
for those who sought the child’s life are dead.”
He rose, took the child and his mother,
and went to the land of Israel.
But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea
in place of his father Herod,
he was afraid to go back there.
And because he had been warned in a dream,
he departed for the region of Galilee.
He went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth,
so that what had been spoken through the prophets
might be fulfilled,
He shall be called a Nazorean.


St Joseph is central in the Christmas story as St Matthew tells it. His role is to be the husband of Mary. It is as such that he names Mary’s son and so becomes his legal father (Mt 1:21). It is as husband of Mary that he ‘took the child and his mother by night’ and fled to Egypt. It is as husband of Mary that he ‘took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel’. It was as husband of Mary that ‘he was afraid to go back there’ (Judea) and risk not only his own life but theirs and took them instead to Galilee

The major feast of St Joseph, on 19 March, honors him as ‘Husband of Mary’. I can’t help repeating that the primary vocation of a married couple is to be spouses, not parents. It is as loving spouses that they become loving parents. This was most clearly expressed for me by an 11-year-old boy at a family day of Worldwide Marriage Encounter here in Bacolod City during an activity for the pre-teens. They were asked what they loved most about their parents. He said, ‘What I love most about my parents is that they are always together’.

A wife can fail as a spouse by giving more attention to her children than to their father. Nobody questions the love of a mother. But it can be a temptation. If a husband, who has pledged his life to his wife ‘till death do us part’ feels that he is not any more the most important person in her life he may be more easily tempted to look elsewhere, with tragic consequences for the whole family.

So many married couples in the Philippines, and elsewhere, are separated by the fact that one is working overseas, sometimes both and possibly in different countries. It is vital that they have living and vibrant communication. Modern technology has made that possible in almost every part of the globe. I know one Filipino couple, where the husband is on a scholarship in Japan, who talk every night using their webcams and computers and their children have a chance to see and talk to their father as he sees and talks to them.

Flight into Egypt, Murillo, painted 1655-60.

Biblical Reflection for Dec. 26, Feast of the Holy Family, Year A

By Father Thomas Rosica, CSB

TORONTO, DEC. 22, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Today's readings for the Feast of the Holy Family take up the tension between rights and obligations. Our Scripture texts maintain that obligations have primacy over rights. Hence the truly human, genuinely Christian priority is not so much what others can do for me but rather what I can do for others.

Preoccupation with self must be set aside as we cast ourselves in the role of servant rather than served. Serving and selflessness are at the core of authentic family life . . .

. . . Joseph, the "foster-father" of the Lord reveals that fatherhood is more than a mere fact of biological generation. A man is a father most when he invests himself in the spiritual and moral formation of his children. Real fathers and real men are those who communicate paternal strength and compassion. They are men of reason in the midst of conflicting passions; men of conviction who always remain open to genuine dialogue about differences; men who ask nothing of others that they wouldn't risk or suffer themselves. Joseph is a chaste, faithful, hardworking, simple and just man. He reminds us that a family, a home, a community, and a parish are not built on power and possessions but goodness; not on riches and wealth, but on faith, fidelity, purity and mutual love.

Full reflection here.

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