The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

26 December 2021
'The Holy Family' by Josef Arnold the Elder (–1879). Image: Wikimedia Commons


The Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

Readings: 1 Samuel 1:20–22, 24–28; Psalm 127(128):1–5; Colossians 3:12–21; Luke 2:41–52

26 December 2021


“His mother stored up all these things in her heart.” – Luke 2:51

The shepherds run with haste after the angels announce the birth of the Messiah. What do they find? In the poor stable of Bethlehem they see a mother, father and a baby—they see a family.

On this first Sunday after Christmas we are invited to contemplate and to enter into the mystery of the meaning of the manifestation of the Son of God; the little Jesus who knew the importance of being cherished by the love of a mother and father. What lessons may we learn from the Holy Family?

First, we learn how to live gazing on God. Mary lived with her eyes fixed on Jesus and listening to the words of the Father. How Mary must have pondered in the inmost depths of her heart the words spoken to her by the angel at the annunciation: “The child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God” (Lk 1:35). Then, she gazed with motherly tenderness upon the face of her Son, as she wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in the manger. Mary may not have had full understanding of the mystery, but she had cultivated an interior space within her, where she was able to ponder all that God revealed to her. In these days of Christmas, we can ask ourselves: do I cultivate a space within me where I am able to ponder the words of God?

We also learn the importance of silence. We are surrounded by noise, especially in the days of Christmas. Celebrations are often full of sound and busyness. St Joseph silently and humbly accepted the word of God in his life. After the angel told him not to be afraid of taking Mary as his wife, he helped to look after Mary and Jesus in the silence of Nazareth—providing for them, teaching Jesus the trade of carpentry and the Jewish rituals and prayers.

Throughout his life, Joseph was faced with difficult decisions, yet it is in silence that he was able to perceive God’s voice and respond promptly to what he was called to do. During this Christmas week, may we respond promptly and joyfully to God’s presence in our life.

Mary, mother of faithful love; Joseph, gentle and humble man of God; Jesus, Son of Mary; bless, guide and protect us! Amen.

Sr Elena Marie Piteo OP

Sr Elena Marie Piteo OP was born in Adelaide and has a background in psychology and theology. She has been a member of the Dominican Sisters of St Cecilia since 2011, and currently resides at the community’s motherhouse in Nashville, Tennessee, USA, where she teaches at Aquinas College.

With thanks to the Diocese of Wollongong who have supplied the weekly Advent and Christmas 2021 reflections from their publication, Blessed – Advent & Christmas Daily Reflections 2021.


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