Holy Family with bird, c. 1650, by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo


First reading 1 Samuel 1:20-22,24-28

This is the child I prayed for: he is made over to the Lord.

Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son, and called him Samuel ‘since’ she said ‘I asked the Lord for him.’
  When a year had gone by, the husband Elkanah went up again with all his family to offer the annual sacrifice to the Lord and to fulfil his vow. Hannah, however, did not go up, having said to her husband, ‘Not before the child is weaned. Then I will bring him and present him before the Lord and he shall stay there for ever.’
  When she had weaned him, she took him up with her together with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour and a skin of wine, and she brought him to the temple of the Lord at Shiloh; and the child was with them. They slaughtered the bull and the child’s mother came to Eli. She said, ‘If you please, my lord. As you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you, praying to the Lord. This is the child I prayed for, and the Lord granted me what I asked him. Now I make him over to the Lord for the whole of his life. He is made over to the Lord.’

Responsorial Psalm 83(84):2-3,5-6,9-10

They are happy who dwell in your house, O Lord.
How lovely is your dwelling place,
  Lord, God of hosts.
My soul is longing and yearning,
  is yearning for the courts of the Lord.
My heart and my soul ring out their joy
  to God, the living God.
They are happy who dwell in your house, O Lord.
They are happy, who dwell in your house,
  for ever singing your praise.
They are happy, whose strength is in you,
  in whose hearts are the roads to Zion.
They are happy who dwell in your house, O Lord.
O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer,
  give ear, O God of Jacob.
Turn your eyes, O God, our shield,
  look on the face of your anointed.
They are happy who dwell in your house, O Lord.

Second reading 1 John 3:1-2,21-24

We are called God’s children, and that is what we are

Think of the love that the Father has lavished on us,
by letting us be called God’s children;
and that is what we are.
Because the world refused to acknowledge him,
therefore it does not acknowledge us.
My dear people, we are already the children of God
but what we are to be in the future has not yet been revealed;
all we know is, that when it is revealed
we shall be like him
because we shall see him as he really is.
My dear people,
if we cannot be condemned by our own conscience,
we need not be afraid in God’s presence,
and whatever we ask him,
we shall receive,
because we keep his commandments
and live the kind of life that he wants.
His commandments are these:
that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ
and that we love one another
as he told us to.
Whoever keeps his commandments
lives in God and God lives in him.
We know that he lives in us
by the Spirit that he has given us.

Gospel Luke 2:41-52

Mary stored up all these things in her heart

Every year the parents of Jesus used to go to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up for the feast as usual. When they were on their way home after the feast, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem without his parents knowing it. They assumed he was with the caravan, and it was only after a day’s journey that they went to look for him among their relations and acquaintances. When they failed to find him they went back to Jerusalem looking for him everywhere.
  Three days later, they found him in the Temple, sitting among the doctors, listening to them, and asking them questions; and all those who heard him were astounded at his intelligence and his replies. They were overcome when they saw him, and his mother said to him, ‘My child, why have, you done this to us? See how worried your father and I have been, looking for you.’
  ‘Why were you looking for me?’ he replied. ‘Did you not know that I must be busy with my Father’s affairs?’ But they did not understand what he meant.
  He then went down with them and came to Nazareth and lived under their authority.
  His mother stored up all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom, in stature, and in favour with God and men.

The Holy Family is not about perfection

Why do we have this particular gospel to celebrate this feast of the Holy Family? Many people have an image of the Holy Family as the  perfect family without any problems, which is not true. Jospeh, Mary and Jesus still had their own challenges and difficult moments. Today’s  gospel speaks of the agony of Mary and Joseph frantically searching for three days for the missing Jesus. Indeed, this was not a perfect  situation. Yet, the Holy Family is holy in the sense that though they did not understand God´s ways fully, they centered their lives on God and placed their trust in Him.
Today, the Holy Family invites us constantly to place God at the center of our family life and trust that He is in our midst, even in challenging times. Like Mary, we will face moments when we do not understand everything fully and we ask, “Why?”. Like her, we might not see the full picture, but continue to walk as one family with and to God.
Question for reflection:
How can I play my part in building a family that is rooted in God? 
Acknowledgment: Reflections are based on “Prayer for Living: The Word of God for Daily Prayer Year C” by Sr. Sandra Seow FMVD.