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Archbishop's last homily - Feast of the Holy Family

My dear brothers and sisters, the first thing I want to say is that this Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph is a feast of Christmas. When Mary and Joseph took their firstborn son to the Temple in Jerusalem to consecrate him to God, their meeting with Simeon and Anna in the Temple seemed to endorse the mystery of their child’s identity. Simeon and Anna rejoiced over the baby whom they recognised as the saviour of Israel and as the light of the world.

Mary knew that her son was unique. She knew that Jesus “was born not out of human stock, or urge of the flesh or will of man but of God himself”. Joseph too was given the grace to understand that the child born of his wife was conceived by the Holy Spirit and would be called the Emmanuel, God with us.

So on the Feast of the Holy Family, we once again joyfully and thankfully celebrate the mystery of Christmas and renew our faith in Jesus as the Incarnate Son and as the saviour who frees us from sin and death and leads us to eternal life. The Feast of the Holy Family, then, is by no means a sentimental or sugary adjunct to the festive season but is a joyful celebration of the Christmas mystery itself.


The Feast of the Holy Family is also a celebration of the family. When a child is born, a couple become a family. So it was for Mary and Joseph when Jesus was born. As a family, they went up to the Temple together to give thanks to God for their child. This action of going together to the Temple with their baby as much as anything was a way of saying, “Look, we are a family”, we give thanks to God for our child, and we seek his blessing.

I would like to ask God’s blessing today on all families, but especially on those which are struggling for any reason, and I want to put before them the message of Christmas that brings new hope to us all. My dear friends, a Saviour has been born for us. He is Christ the Lord. Trust in him. Turn to him. He brings light even in the deepest darkness of misfortune, illness and death. He understands your sadness, your anger, your bewilderment, your anxiety, and your grief. Go to him, for he is gentle and humble of heart, and he will give you rest. Look at the Holy Family of Nazareth. See that Jesus is at the centre of his family and his home. Look at Mary and Joseph who trusted so implicitly in God even when they did not understand his purpose. Seek their intercession for your family. They are always close to Jesus.

On this Feast of the Holy Family, I want to encourage you in your family life. More than anything else society needs loving and stable families in which husband and wife love one another and in which children are welcomed, loved and secure. In a time when our society is hopelessly confused about relationships, the worth and the value of the family of husband, wife and children is as plain as plain could be.

During this time of the Covid-19 pandemic, the restrictions mean that only relatively few of our Catholic community can gather for Sunday Mass. At this precise moment, only 20 are permitted. I encourage you, nonetheless, and indeed even more earnestly at this time, to build your family life upon your faith in God. Pass on your faith to your children. Teach them to pray. When you can do so again safely, bring them to Mass and to the Sacraments. Show them the meaning of marriage by your own loving union with your spouse. Teach them the meaning of family life by the way you live the life of the family. May Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the Holy Family of Nazareth, inspire and intercede for all our families and for the family of the Church.

Last modified on Thursday, 14 January 2021 17:26

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