Blessed Holy Family Day (this coming Sunday) to all our families! You know that the Church’s Christmas season begins on December 25th, the birthday of Christ, and ends on January 13th, the baptism of Christ and in between these two we celebrate the Holy Family (Dec 30th), the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God (Jan 1st) and the Epiphany (Jan 6th) …and you thought Christmas was over on December 25th!
The season begins with the celebration of Christ’s birth as God-man, the first of His three most significant days on earth (the other two being the day He died and the day He rose from the dead), the day that changed the world forever because never before had we experienced the presence of God in our midst as we would for the 30+ years to follow. It ends with the celebration of His Baptism marking the beginning of the most extraordinary catechetical ministry the world will ever know. Everything the Lord did was spectacular and extraordinary and if, for no other reason, that should be reason enough for us to want to know as much as we possibly can about Him. During this most special season of the Church year, we also take time to celebrate the Holy Family, Mary, the mother, Joseph, the father, and Jesus the Son. We don’t know much about their family life except that which is described briefly in the New Testament writings and some of the writings of the early Church. In 1893 Pope Leo XIII instituted the feast day of the Holy Family. The current liturgical calendar places the feast on the Sunday immediately following Christmas. We can only speculate about what it must have been like to have known you were the parent/step-parent of the Son of God, but most assuredly theirs was a holy household and one for us to emulate in our own homes.
The early Church in Rome celebrated the recognition of Mary’s place of honor as the Mother of God on January 1st. However, in the 7thcentury the feast was overshadowed by the two liturgical celebrations honoring Mary (Annunciation and Assumption) and January 1stwas celebrated only as the octave of Christmas Day and the day the Infant Jesus was brought to the temple for circumcision. Following Vatican II, Pope Paul VI restored the feast to January 1stas “…a fitting occasion for renewing the adoration of the newborn Prince of Peace…” Finally, during this amazing season, we celebrate the Epiphany, the visit of the Magi, the so-called “Three Kings of the Orient” on January 6th. Our current liturgical calendar allows for the feast to be celebrated any time between Jan 2nd– 8th. There are many interpretations about the significance of this feast day. It is well established that there were royalty passing through the Holy Land frequently and often with regular scheduled caravans of merchants. The three “Kings-Wise Men-Magi” may well have been nobility who had passed through the area the prior year and heard of Simeon’s prophesy about the birth of Christ and returned to find this child who was supposedly the long-awaited Messiah. The long and short of all this is that the Season of Christmas holds many wonderful opportunities to celebrate the richness of our faith in liturgy and prayerful celebrations. Make the most of them and join our community in worship of our Lord and Savior!
Pastor’s Points is a bi-weekly feature about faith, family, and life, from our pastor, Father James Flynn. It is published in our parish bulletins, as well.