Saturday, December 27, 2008



When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took the baby Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,” and to offer the sacrifice of a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons, in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple.

And when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying: “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.”

The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted – and you yourself a sword will pierce – so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer. And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.

When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.

Many families in our society are a wreck. They exist only in the records of the parish or of the municipal hall and in the memories of years long gone by. Where there used to be kindness and trust, there now reign bitterness and betrayal. Where sharing and love flourished, there is now selfishness or even hatred. Most situations of these broken homes have reached a point of no return, with children born of “illegal” partners, and unfaithfulness having become a way of life.

How will these parents raise their children as Christians? What families will these children be able to form? . . .

All this is the result of a crisis of values, a crisis of faith. And a world full of malice and selfishness has easily shattered what was already so feeble inside. Our families need to rediscover the necessity and power of Christian values like love, dedication, respect, faithfulness, forgiveness, purity, faith, prayer . . . Only if these and similar values are treasured will a family be able to weather the inevitable storms of life.

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph is, for all our Filipino families, the wonderful model they should try to imitate. Only then will the whole Christian community in the Philippines experience that wonderful revival that we all need so badly, and which can only be rooted in the Gospel values exemplified in the Holy Family of Nazareth.

That family was not just exceptional because of the unique way in which Jesus was conceived, and because He was the Son of God. That family was also an ordinary family. Its members knew what it means to “live by the sweat of one’s brow.” They knew the bitter taste of poverty, rejection, persecution, anxiety, exile . . . They endured it all, trusting only in the Lord and always doing their best. This makes them the object not only of our admiration, but also of our imitation.

There are also other aspects which make the Holy Family of Nazareth a “model family.” It was a GOD-CENTERED FAMILY. God was their absolute priority, their number one. They lived in His presence, in total trust and availability.

That family was also inimitable in the loving attitude of its members toward one another. “Clothed with heartfelt mercy, kindness, humility, meekness, love and patience” (Col 3:12) in their daily lives, they practised all the virtues which St. Paul urges all Christian families to treasure and live.

Jesus’ family was characterized by sincere, selfless LOVE. This is what makes the Holy Family of Nazareth, the model and inspiration of all times and nations.

Every family should have a proper priority of values, deep respect for the aged, tenderness for the children. It should be one in plan and action, all under God, the Father of all.

This is the family we all should dream of and endeavor to make a reality with the help of God’s grace. Then will our families also become "Holy Families".

Euchalette, 28 December 2008
MCPO Box 1820, Makati City 1258, Philippines