Feast of the Holy Family
The Universal Church celebrates the first Sunday after Christmas as the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. In the entrance antiphon we pray: “The shepherds hastened to Bethlehem, where they found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. Amen.” We are celebrating not only the feast of the Holy Family of Nazareth, but also the feast of each Christian family, our family, and all that it means to us. The readings provided for this day’s Mass, particularly the second reading, describe the atmosphere which should prevail in a Christian family: “You should be clothed in sincere compassion, in kindness and humility, gentleness and patience,” says Saint Paul, “and may the peace of Christ reign in your hearts.” In the first reading, from Ecclesiasticus, Ben Sira tells us that we should honour our parents. The Gospel of Matthew highlights the importance of Joseph as the head of the family of Nazareth with responsibility to protect the infant Child Jesus and his mother, Mary. Let us pray for the grace of peace and harmony in our respective families.
Mary, the Mother of God - January 1, 2018
Before we reach Christ's birth in Luke's gospel we are already well aware of how special Mary is. The angel Gabriel calls her "most highly favored" and her cousin Elizabeth exclaims how she is "most blessed". She is the one in whom the blessings spoken of by God to Moses are to be fulfilled. Yet she has no claims to greatness. She is a maiden betrothed to a man named Joseph in an insignificant village in the unimportant region of Galilee. Luke traces the genealogy of Jesus through his foster-father, Joseph. Mary herself, in her great hymn of praise on her visit to Elizabeth, will speak of her own lowliness and marvel at how God has chosen the weak and poor to confound the rich and powerful.
In this sense the shepherds are Mary's natural companions. They too are looked down upon. Mary is great not through any social connections or natural talents but because God has blessed her and chosen her. She becomes the model for the many characters in Luke's gospel who will turn social expectations upside down: the Good Samaritan, the woman who was a sinner, Zacchaeus and the Prodigal Son, to name but a few. She is the one who, with the Spirit living in her heart, is able to cry "Abba, Father". She becomes the first of those freed from slavery, the first heir among the children of God.
How she accepts God's blessing and choice is important. In a phrase Luke will repeat, Mary is reported as treasuring all these things and pondering them in her heart. She is the model of prayerful reflection, the one who allows the Spirit to speak and inspire. The result of her reflection is in this case transposed onto the shepherds. They go back glorifying and praising God for all they have heard and seen. In the Magnificat, it is Mary herself who glorifies and praises God for all he has done.
Mary is a wonderful model for us as we begin this New Year. I wish you every blessing, happiness and health throughout 2018. May our parish and parishioners continue to be blessed through the intercession of Mary, the Mother of God and our Mother too!
SKATING PARTY – Queen of Heaven Catholic School and St Dominic Catholic School have extended an invitation to all parishioners to join them for a skating party on January 13th 2018 from 7pm – 8 pm at Carmen Corbasson arena followed by refreshments back in the parish hall. I hope to see a good turn out!!
Wishing you, your families and friends every blessing in 2018!
Happy New Year!