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DECEMBER 31, 2023 THE HOLY FAMILY OF JESUS, MARY AND JOSEPH
First Reading: Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14
Second Reading: Hebrews 11:8, 11-12, 17-19
Gospel: Luke 2:22-40

As we prepare to enter a new year, we are invited to reflect on the family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. The Holy Family is the model for us. We know that our families are not perfect. We are constantly trying to define and create ourselves. We are still in the Christmas season. We continue to thank God for our families while asking for strength to commit ourselves to one another. 
 
This Feast of the Holy Family reminds us that the family is important. As a family, we must cooperate with God’s plan for our lives. We must learn from each other as Jesus learned from Joseph and Mary. For example, Mary and Joseph lived out their faith. Jesus observed them. Jesus learned to be a believer in the traditions he experienced. Our families can help us to become the people God wants us to be.  
 
Today’s Gospel tells us that Jesus was presented in the temple and given the name announced by the angel Gabriel. Mary and Joseph performed the prescribed ritual according to the scriptures and made their offering to the Lord. By the offerings that they made, Mary and Joseph were identified as the poor. Jesus often identified himself with the poor and lowly. Jesus is recognized as the fulfillment of hope by two devout Jews in the temple- Simeon and Anna.
 
The family must remain committed to each other in both good times and bad. The heart of the family is the sense of belonging and support. Many of our families struggle to make these values evident. Many families are hurt or broken. We don’t have to remain this way. There is always a chance to be renewed and strengthened both in faith and relationships with each other. Love is the gift of Christmas.
 
We may not experience our family as perfect. We may even struggle to accept some members of our families, but these are who we are. The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were united in one heart and one mind. They accepted to be faithful to God and shared what they learned from each other. Mary and Joseph were a people with a mission to share God’s presence with the world. May our families be given the strength to live out this mission in our lives and interactions with others.
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