In the feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the First Reading is taken from the Book of the Prophet Sirach. This reading is a commentary on the fourth commandment: ‘Honor your father and your mother.’ The Prophet Sirach gives us his idea of the ideal family, with all the responsibilities, honors and benefits that are bestowed on each member. Sirach lists the rewards that come with such respectful conduct: atonement for one’s sins, gift of offspring, answer to prayers, and a long life.
The Second Reading is taken from St. Paul’s Letter to the Colossians. In this passage, Paul gives us his thoughts on the ideal family life, which should be just as true today as it was then. Paul urges his readers to clothe themselves with the virtues that befit a follower of Christ: forgiveness, kindness, patience, love, etc. He exhorts them to be grateful, to sing, and to do everything for the glory of God. Saint Paul encourages spouses to be submissive to each other.
The Gospel Reading is taken from the Gospel of Matthew. In this passage, we see what Mary and Joseph did in order to ensure the safety of the Child Jesus. They uprooted themselves and went into exile. When the danger passed, they uprooted themselves again and returned to their native country, settling in Nazareth. There Mary and Joseph provided the kind of atmosphere in which he was able to grow ‘in wisdom and in favor with God and people.’ In this Gospel we see exemplified the primary obligation of parents, which is to love and care for their children.