Celebrating the Feast of the Holy Family

The great celebration of Christmas happens over eight days. During this special time, the Church takes opportunity to acknowledge special feasts or solemnities associated with the Nativity of Jesus; the Feast of the Holy Family, the Solemnity of Mary, Holy Mother of God, the Epiphany and finally, the Baptism of the Lord.

BACKGROUND TO THE HOLY FAMILY

HONOURING JESUS, MARY AND JOSEPH AS AN EARTHLY FAMILY

The Feast of the Holy Family honours Jesus, Mary and St. Joseph as an earthly family. Mary, the Mother of God, is a model of our Church’s evangelical mission through her voice, love, and tenderness. Joseph, the husband of Mary, is the guardian of Jesus, who provided Jesus and Mary with stable family life. The Holy Family is a model for our own family.

THE CELEBRATION OF PASSOVER

On this special day, we hear in the Gospel that Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to Jerusalem for the celebration of the Passover at twelve years of age. On the road home, they realize that Jesus is with neither parent and they must return to Jerusalem to find him. This story can be distressing to parents, for in our age we watch our children very closely.

GOD'S CALL IN JESUS' LIFE

Mary and Joseph return to Jerusalem and find Jesus in the Temple, the house of his Father. Although worried about his wellbeing, it is important to realize that Jesus was never truly lost. This story is not about a missing child, this story is about Jesus recognizing the power of God’s call in his life.

CALLED AS FAITHFUL DISCIPLES

Each one of us has the same call from God in our own lives, and, it is in the family that we learn how to listen for His voice. Each one of us belongs to God’s family, and through the sacred gift of human life, we are called to live in love and harmony with our earthly families as well. We are called, as faithful disciples, to protect God’s image and likeness in one another through our love and stewardship to all of God’s creation.

FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY

Take time to celebrate this special feast day with some time for prayer and conversation. If you have a Nativity Scene set out in your home consider gathering around it for this time of prayer.

THE SIGN OF THE CROSS

The parent(s) trace the sign of the cross while offering the following and encouraging the children, if necessary, to join them: "Whenever we gather to pray, we gather in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

AN ADULT SHARES THE FOLLOWING WORDS:

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. The Holy Family honours the human family of Jesus, Mary and Saint Joseph. Mary and Joseph helped Jesus grow in understanding and love. Jesus listened to Joseph and Mary, was obedient to them, learned the rules of his Church and community, the stories of his family and how to pray. The Holy Family gives us a model to live within the Christian family and with all people. Jesus wants us to behave as loving brothers and sisters of one family, with God at the head of the family.

GOSPEL (Lk 2:41-51)

Adult: A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke.
Choose a member of the family to share the words of the Gospel:

Every year the parents of Jesus went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended, and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Assuming that he was in the group of travellers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days they found him in the Temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. Then he went down with them, came to Nazareth, and was obedient. His mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and years, and in favour with God and human beings.

The Gospel of the Lord.

R: Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ. The family takes a moment to reflect on the Gospel quietly.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

An adult leads the family through these discussion questions or similar to talk about the Gospel of the day.

  • When is it easy and challenging to be part of a family?
  • What is easy and challenging about being a member of God’s family?
  • In this new year, how can we take time to show love for our earthly family as well as the family of God?

CLOSING PRAYER AND DISMISSAL

An adult invites the children to pray the Lord’s Prayer (or another suitable prayer).

After the closing prayer, the family returns to the Christmas celebrations.