Prayer, Listening, Mutual Love, Respect, and Obedience

12-26-2021Weekly ReflectionFr. Anthony Okolo, C.S.Sp

The feast of the Holy Family invites us to reflect on the Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph to see how the example of the Holy Family can inspire our own family to a life of holiness. The Holy Family in their mutual love, respect and obedience, in their patience in moments of trial and difficulties teach us how to be obedient to God’s will in our families. Through their perseverance in moments of doubt and confusion, the Holy Family demonstrates to us how to live in peace, unity and love. The feast of Holy Family communicates to us how much God loves the family, that He decided to come into the world through the family. God as God could have chosen to enter the world through any other means, but by choosing to come through the family demonstrates the profound love God has for our human family. The Holy Family may seem like a fictional tale that exists in another, planet away from a real family in our society today, but they experienced the challenges our own families face today. What distinguishes them is their faithfulness to God’s love and respect for each other. Our families can equally become like the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph when we allow the virtues of the Holy Family to guide our own families.

In the first reading we see how Hannah prayed for a child after many years without an issue and when her prayers were answered she offered the child up to God. There is great need to recourse to prayer in any family problems. Our families today are in different needs, like broken relationships between parents and broken relationships between children and their parents. Such relationships can be healed through deep prayers offered to God in complete faith and trust. Hannah’s action in the first reading equally teaches us the need for gratitude when our prayers are answered. In response to prayers answered she offered Samuel to God. How do we respond to God’s blessings in our lives and families when our prayers receive favorable response from God? In addition, as Hannah presented her son Samuel before God so we are encouraged to continually present ourselves every day to the Lord.

In the second reading, Paul talks about the love of God for us and it is this love for us that led Him to the cross so that we are called children of God. We are called to show the same love to our fellow brothers and sisters. It is only when this commandment of love for the other is observed that we can truly claim we love God.

The gospel presents us with the finding of Jesus in the temple which is the fifth mystery of the Joyful mysteries. The Gospel tells us that Jesus was found in the temple listening and questioning the teachers of law. In most commentaries what is projected is questioning the teachers of law without espousing the aspect of listening. Jesus first of all listened and it is an invitation to each of us to first pay attention to the word of God we hear every day and listen with greater attention before anything. To listen attentively requires an open mind to what we read in the scriptures and the teachings of the church. Jesus also demonstrates to us the value of obedience. When His mother asked why have you done this to us? He responded, “Why were you looking for Me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Despite the fact that He was trying to find His identity in the temple of God for which purpose He came into the world, He nevertheless followed them back home giving us an example of obedience to parents. Jesus’ example in this Gospel is also a challenge for each of us to imbibe the value of obedience even when we think we have to affirm our independence and identity. Jesus knew His identity as One who has come to reveal to us the face of God, at the same time He actualized it through obedience to His parents and to God and that is why St. Paul tells us He was obedient even onto death and death on a cross. May we all learn how to obey God in our lives and all those responsible to us.

I wish you all an amazing Christmas filled with God’s love in your families as we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family.