Celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family
Gospel Meditation: Mass on December 29, 2019
“‘Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you.’” 725 kilometers. That’s the distance on modern roads from Bethlehem to Cairo. Assuming one covered 40km a day on foot — ambitious for two young parents and their infant son — the journey would take well over two weeks. Of course, the Holy Family didn’t have modern roads. They would travel through wilderness, fear bandits, run low on water, and cross the vast Sinai Peninsula in a reverse of their forefathers in Exodus. Here, in struggle and sacrifice, are the beginnings of the forging of the Holy Family. “Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. He stayed there until the death of Herod.” Large Jewish communities existed in most major cities of the ancient Mediterranean world, after the collapse of their kingdoms chronicled in the Old Testament, and Joseph could likely find work as a carpenter. All the same, today’s Gospel reminds us that the first formational years of Jesus as a babe-in arms were spent in a strange land. The members of the Holy Family were foreigners, outsiders, immigrants. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. God took on our humanity. He is in solidarity with our own trials and difficulties. On the feast of the Holy Family, we honor the special place of the family within society. We are invited, too, to recall those families who share in the struggles of the Holy Family in a particular way. We pray for immigrants, asylum seekers, and refugees. We pray for all parents who sacrifice their own well-being and comfort so their children may have a better life.