Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle A

Feast of the Holy Family

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Matthew 2:13-15,19-23

"There he settled in a town called Nazareth"

There is no reason to be sentimental about the life of the Holy Family. We should not imagine that family life, even for them, was all sweetness and light. We have just celebrated the birth of the Son of God into our human condition. He has become a fully human being, sharing utterly in our humanity, like us in all things except sin. So, too, his family life was the normal family life of the people of his time and place - so normal that neighbours saw nothing unusual about him; they simply knew him as the Carpenter's son.

Having spent time in Egypt as refugees, to escape king Herod’s cruel massacre of infants, they returned and settled in a town called Nazareth. There they had to struggle like any other family with the demands of everyday living - the regular household tasks, the demands on patience, the need to confront differences of opinion, the anxious wait for the next job, the tickle-tattle of everyday chatter. It was in the midst of all this that Jesus, like any other child, lived with his parents. Even he, like any other growing child, could be a source of worry to his parents, as when he was lost in Jerusalem. It was in this very ordinary setting of family life that he grew in wisdom and knowledge.

Today, as we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, we pray that we may “live as the holy family, united in respect and love”. This feast is a reminder to us that it is in the ordinary, sometimes routine or even dull, and at other times perhaps demanding, rounds of everyday living that we too are to find holiness. For most of us, it is primarily through our own family life that we may find the path to holiness. It is here before all else, in this very ordinary setting of the ups-and-downs of family life that we can allow the “message of Christ, in all its richness, find a home within us”.