The first Sunday after Christmas, on the liturgical calendar, celebrates the Holy Family. Pope Leo XIII instituted this feast in 1892, encouraging societies honoring the Holy Family to be established everywhere. He established this feast day to remind families of the sacredness of the family and to provide the laity with a model upon which to structure their own families. In 1974 Pope Paul VI wrote, in his Apostolic Exhortation, Marialis Cultus (For the Right Ordering and Development of Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary):
On the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (the Sunday within the octave of Christmas) the Church meditates with profound reverence upon the holy life led in the house at Nazareth by Jesus, the Son of God and Son of Man, Mary His Mother, and Joseph the just man (cf. Mt. 1:19).
HT Living Catholicism
This was the first reading we had at mass today; emphasis mine!
Sir 3:2-6, 12-14 or 1Sm 1:20-22, 24-28
God sets a father in honor over his children;
a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons.
Whoever honors his father atones for sins,
and preserves himself from them.
When he prays, he is heard;
he stores up riches who reveres his mother.
Whoever honors his father is gladdened by children,
and, when he prays, is heard.
Whoever reveres his father will live a long life;
he who obeys his father brings comfort to his mother.
My son, take care of your father when he is old;
grieve him not as long as he lives.
Even if his mind fail, be considerate of him;
revile him not all the days of his life;
kindness to a father will not be forgotten,
firmly planted against the debt of your sins
—a house raised in justice to you.
I guess this speaks more to me this year for a couple of reasons. My sons, particularly my oldest boy continue to push my limits. I guess that's normal; I just wish it didn't seem so thoughtless so many times. I don't mind if he wants to spend part of the holidays with his girlfriend's family, but must it be Christmas Eve, a good chunk or Christmas Day and most of the day after? It just makes me feel like such an afterthought. So I try to remember that not all examples are positive ones, and remind my remaining children about the importance of family and courtesy and that as siblings they are truly great assets to one another.
This reading also reminds me of the time we spent with Mom this past year during her illness and death. I so regret that I wasn't with her when she died and I can't understand how I allowed that to happen. But I hope the weeks before of visits and rosaries at her bedside, bring her popsickles and just visiting gave her comfort and some happiness. I hope that the funeral we planned and the tributes we gave were enough to help revere her memory. It seems so odd without her.
My sister and I now seem to be struggling with what the should be our new family traditions without our mother. Nieces and nephews needing to see their divorced dad adds to scheduling complications and I'm sure as all the kids find boyfriends and girlfriends and try to balance those families for the holidays it will be even more complicated. But maybe the point of Holy Family Sunday is being grateful for the people to have complications with! and to accept all of it with the serenity of Mary and the patience of St. Joseph, with the focus on Baby Jesus.
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