The Institute for Christian Formation
The Feast of the Holy Family of
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph
December 28, 2014

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Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.  This is the second major feast of the Christmas Season.  The Feast of the Holy Family is celebrated on the Sunday within the Octave of Christmas (December 25-January 1), except in years when both December 25 and January 1 fall on a Sunday.  Then the Feast of the Holy Family is celebrated on December 30.

The Gospel proclaimed on this feast in Cycle B (our current Sunday Lectionary Cycle for this Year of Grace 2015) is the story of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:22-40), or an abbreviated version of this Gospel passage  
If you live with family or in community, spend quality time together on this Feast of the Holy Family.  In today’s society, it is not unusual for people to live under the same roof, and rarely see each other or communicate.  Families have been observed sitting in the same room, yet each family member is in their own technological world of texting, surfing the internet, glued to a television, listening to their ipod with earphones, or playing a solitary video
Whatever your lifestyle – single, married, parent, grandparent, widow or widower – always strive to live an authentic life, with Christ at the center. However you define your family or network, this is the task of a Christian each day of the year, not just on the Feast of the Holy Family.  We are each called to live a holy life, whatever our circumstances.  And each family, however it is configured, is called to be a holy family!

Those who are engaged or married will find the “For Your Marriage” web site of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to be a good resource.  There is an English language site, and a Spanish language site.
(Luke 2:22,39-40). You can access today’s readings here. This Gospel passage begins with Mary and Joseph taking Jesus up to Jerusalem to be presented to the Lord, and concludes with the Holy Family returning to their home in Nazareth, where Jesus grew up.  The next time we hear about Jesus in Luke’s Gospel is when he is twelve years old.  The Scriptures do not give us any details of the intervening years in the life of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.  They most likely shared the same joys, sorrows, ups, and downs that all families experience. Being devout Jews, their Jewish faith would have been a major factor in their lifestyle as they lived faith daily in their home, keeping the feasts and seasons of the Jewish year.  What do you think life was like for Mary, Joseph, and Jesus in those early years in Nazareth?  Do you think life was easier for families at that time, as compared to now, or more difficult?  Why?     
game.  Why not put a ban on this type of technology for today?  Plan a nice meal, and prepare it together.  Set your table using the good tableware, and sit down together for a leisurely dinner.

After dinner, go Christmas Caroling in your neighborhood as a family. (You can download the scores to some Christmas Carols below.)  Do you have relatives close by who are living alone?  Invite them to join you.  Are there single people in your neighborhood?  What about elderly people who have no relatives close by?  Invite them, as well. Or if they can’t get out to go caroling, make sure to stop by their homes to serenade them with a carol or two! Expand your family circle to be inclusive of those who cannot share this feast with their own family.

Christmas Carols to Download (Just click on the title to download the score.)
After caroling, invite all the carolers to come back to your home for hot chocolate and cookies.  You could even serve panetonne, the traditional Italian Christmas bread.  You can buy this in many stores at Christmastime, or you can bake it yourself.  Here is one recipe, and here is one place you could purchase bakeable paper panetonne pans. (You could even bake some miniature panetonnes to drop off at homes where you are caroling.) If you do make/serve panetonne, gather the children around and read them the story of “Tony’s Bread” by Tomie dePaola, which is a legend about panetonne!  Here's more on the legend.
As December 28 is on a Sunday this year, we are celebrating the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in our liturgy.  But each year on December 28 we also remember the Holy Innocents.  The Holy Innocents, as depicted in this painting by Giotto di Bondone, were the young male infants murdered in Bethlehem by the decree of King Herod.  You can read the account of this massacre in Matthew 2:13-18.  Learn more about the Holy Innocents, traditions surrounding their feast day, and implications for social justice issues in our own day at our ICF Holy Innocents page here
The Holy Innocents, Martyrs