Feast of the Holy Family
Attending a family reunion not long ago, I was struck by the physical resemblances of the members of my family through a number of generations. I wondered, too, whether the values of my first immigrant ancestors from 150 years ago were also present in the crowd of people gathered there. Hello, I’m Father Greg Friedman, and this is the “Sunday Soundbite” for the Feast of the Holy Family.
Today’s Gospel from the infancy narrative section of Matthew’s account gives us a vignette of a family grappling with a crisis. Joseph has to take Mary and Jesus to safety to avoid the clutches of Herod, the ruler who seeks to take the child’s life.
But commentators on the passage tell us more is going on here below the surface. Matthew is reflecting on Old Testament references which lead us to see Jesus as the “new Moses” and the “new Israel.” Matthew’s audience had a special need to understand this—a Christian community struggling to focus its identity in relation to its Jewish origins.
Our religious experiences are so often rooted in our own family origins: ancestors who struggled to keep the faith as oppressed slaves, impoverished immigrants, persecuted minorities; after them came those who sought to build a future that would ensure a stable family life and the practice of religion. Today, parents wrestle with a whole new set of challenges as they seek to share faith in the family setting.
Knowing where we’ve come from, and keeping ourselves constantly rooted in the person of Jesus Christ and his mission—as today’s second reading from St. Paul reminds us—can help us weather any crisis.