Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph (B) White
Gen 15: 1-6, 21: 1-3 • Ps 105• Heb 11: 8, 11-12, 17-19
Lk 2: 22-40 [or 2:22, 39-40] • The Presentation in the Temple
22When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord...
25Now 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. 26It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. 27He 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, 28he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:
29“Now, Master, you may let your servant go/ in peace, according to your word,/ 30for my eyes have seen your salvation,/ 31which you prepared in sight of all the peoples,/ 32a light for revelation to the Gentiles,/ and glory for your people Israel.”
33The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; 34and 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 35—and you yourself a sword will pierce—so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” 36There 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, 37and then as a widow until she was eighty-four... 38And 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.
39When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.
Panganays come in all forms and attitudes. There are the elders for a few siblings and the elders of a large brood. There is the hardworking type, the bossy, the promotor, and the virtual parent. One thing that the panganay can never be is that he/she is without a sibling. The “only child” (bless you!) can never be a panganay. Or so I thought.
“Firstborn” does not exactly translate to panganay; after all, no translation ever performs to exactness. “Firstborn” simply means the baby who happens to be the first one to get out of the mother’s womb. And yes, firstborns include those who would end up having no siblings: the “only” child.
Today Jesus is presented in the Temple as the firstborn of his parents Mary and Joseph. Although others have seen the Holy Family, the presentation in the Temple is their first public outing as a family in the Gospels. It is important because it tells us how precious God saw himself as part of a family—and by extension how important a family is in his plan of saving us. The throne is not important as the family table; the army and the adoring crowds can never replace the moral support of family members. Have you ever felt the difference of being in a public place with caring family members and a similar situation but without them? The latter feeling can feel empty.
The apparent lack of siblings of the Lord Jesus teaches us that his Sonship is open-ended. He may be the only Begotten Son (yes, with a capital ‘s’) of God, but he is not the only son. We see that this first trip to the Temple was chosen by Luke to invite us to a faith-siblinghood: we, too, are brothers and sisters of the Lord. His redemption from the Temple in exchange for two turtledoves did not, in the end, exempt him from saving his fellow human beings on the Cross. This great Brother of ours, who could have lived like any other firstborn of his time, chose to have brothers and sisters in us by following the will of his heavenly Father. May we, who celebrate this wonderful season of Christmas, never forget to do the same.
- Why did Jesus, Mary, and Joseph go to the temple?
- What did the parents of the firstborn have to offer to the Temple to take back their son from the Lord’s dedication?
- Who were the two old people who rejoiced at the first coming of Jesus into the temple?
- How can you strengthen your relationship with your family members?
- What can you do to show your loved ones how much they mean to you?
- How do you resolve conflicts in your family?
- This Christmas season, make a new friend, or visit and renew an old friendship.
- Pray to Jesus not only for your immediate family members, but also your relatives.
- Reach out to those in need, especially those who may have never been visited by family members this Christmas.