Holy Family - Shorter Version

Ecclesiasticus 3:2-6, 12-14 / Colossians 3:12-21 / Luke 2:41-52

Today’s feast of the Holy Family brings back for me many childhood memories, especially childhood memories about going to church.

When my siblings and I were still kids, my parents would usually bring us together as a family for Mass every Sunday.

We would go for the early morning Mass and my parents would have a hard time waking us up on Sunday mornings.

I can’t remember how but I think my family would make it in time for Mass, although my parents had to drive us out of the house as if the house was on fire!

Then at Mass, I also don’t know if we were actually praying but all I could remember is that if I was not dreaming, then I would be playing a fool.

I remembered on one occasion, I went to church with a safety pin on my shirt because a button had come off.

But during the homily, I felt bored, so I took out the safety pin and poked my brother.

Of course, we got into a bit of fight, and my mum intervened, and she “prophesied” that I would get it after Mass, and the “prophecy” was fulfilled.

Of course, besides Sunday Mass, my parents would make sure that we have our family rosary prayers every evening.

As I think about it now, I must say that it is my parents who formed my religious upbringing.

It was not easy for them to make me behave in church and to say my prayers, because I was the naughtiest of my siblings.

They were strict with me in my religious upbringing but now I really thank them for that, otherwise I would have gone way out.

No doubt they prayed for me, but I guess they never expected how far their prayers would go, especially when I became a priest!

Today’s Gospel presents us Jesus and His parents going to the Temple.

This is the only time we hear about Jesus as a 12 year-old.

Being the Holy Family does not mean that they have no worries or anxieties or problems.

In today’s gospel, we see the problem between parents and children.

It is not about who is right or wrong. Rather it is about a family going through the struggles and difficulties of life together.

Nowadays parents have a difficult time bringing up their children, especially in giving them a religious upbringing.

Getting them to come on time for Mass on Sunday is already difficult enough.

Trying to have family prayers is really challenging because of the busyness of everyone in the family.

Yet, without the religious dimension of the family life, then it is almost impossible to have family values.

The 1st reading talks about the filial piety of children but this cannot be fostered if the children have no knowledge of God.

Hence, if parents want children to respect them then they have to teach their children to respect God first and then the children will know what to do.

Parents have to be firm with their children in their religious upbringing like coming for Mass on Sundays and praying together as a family.

It is not easy especially when parents themselves are so busy and children are so independent nowadays.

But if there is to be any family love, warmth and unity, then God must be in the center of the family.

The family that prays together will stay together in difficult and challenging times.

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph showed us in this aspect.

Mary and Joseph will   pray for us and our families that there will be love, unity, understanding, forgiveness in our families.

Yes, Mary and Joseph will pray for us but we too need to do our part.

On this feast of the Holy Family, the Archbishop William Goh has composed a “Prayer for the family in the Year of Mercy”.

In that prayer, he prayed for the healing of family brokenness through God’s mercy and forgiveness.

His prayer is inspired by what Pope Francis said about the family:
“Husband and wife, have you quarrelled? Children with parents? It’s not right, but it isn’t the problem. The problem is that this sentiment must not be there the next day... The day must never end without making peace in the family.”

Yes, we need to pray for peace in the family. But it can only come about through God’s mercy and forgiveness.

The Archbishop has given us the prayer. It is for us to decide whether we really want to pray for peace in the family.

Family peace begins with prayer. And Mother Mary and St. Joseph will be there in prayer with us for our families.

A family that prays together will stay together in peace.