Sunday Church at Home. Feast of the Holy Family, 26th December 2021

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Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
26th December, 2021

Sunday Church at Home

during the Coronavirus Pandemic


A Family Founded on Love
and on Listening to the Word of God. 




The leader makes the sign of the cross, saying:


Leader: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.


All reply: Amen


Leader: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


All reply: Blessed be God for ever


If your crib wasn’t blessed yesterday, today, on the Feast of the Holy Family, is a good time to do it. 


Blessing of Crib


As we celebrate the birth of Christ, 

we pause to bless this Christmas manger scene.  

The practice of erecting such mangers was begun by St Francis of Assisi 

as a means to set forth the message of Christmas.  

When we look upon these figures,

 the Christmas gospel comes alive 

and we are moved to rejoice in the mystery of the incarnation of the Son of God.


Placing of baby Jesus in manger.



Almighty God and Father,

a child is born for us and a son is given to us.

Your eternal word leaped down from heaven

in the silent watches of the night,

and now your church is filled with wonder

at the nearness of her God.

Bless this, our crib

a reminder of the lowly birth of our Saviour and king.

Open our hearts to receive him,

so that our lives may be filled

with his glory and peace.

We make this prayer through Christ our Lord.




We continue with the Liturgy of the Word.




First Reading:  1 Samuel 1:20-22.24-28

Introduction to the reading: Today’s reading takes place 11 centuries before Christ at an Israelite shrine, which is referred to as a “temple” in the text. When Hannah, who was childless, visited this shrine previously, Eli the high priest had promised that she would bear a son. Today’s reading picks up from there. (Christians have seen Hannah as a symbol of Mary.)


A reading from the First Book of Samuel.

And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son,
and she called his name Samuel,
for she said, “I have asked him of the Lord.” 

And the man Elkanah and all his house
went up to offer to the Lord the yearly sacrifice,
and to pay his vow.
But Hannah did not go up,
for she said to her husband,
“As soon as the child is weaned, I will bring him,
that he may appear in the presence of the Lord,
and abide there forever.” 

And when she had weaned him,
she took him up with her,
along with a three-year-old bull,
an ephah of flour,
and a skin of wine;
and she brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh,
and the child was young.
Then they slew the bull,
and they brought the child to Eli.
And she said, “Oh, my lord!
As you live, my lord,
I am the woman who was standing here in your presence,
praying to the Lord.
For this child, I prayed,
and the Lord has granted me my petition which I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the Lord;
as long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.”

The word of the Lord.


Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 84:2-3.5-6.9-10.11 (R. 5a)

Let us now pray the Responsorial Psalm:

R/. Blessed are they who dwell in your house, O Lord.

How lovely is your dwelling place,
O Lord of hosts.
My soul is longing and yearning
for the courts of the Lord.
My heart and my flesh cry out
to the living God.

Blessed are they who dwell in your house,
forever singing your praise.
Blessed the people whose strength is in you,
whose heart is set on pilgrim ways.

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.

One day within your courts
is better than a thousand elsewhere.
The threshold of the house of God
I prefer to the dwellings of the wicked.

R/. Blessed are they who dwell in your house, O Lord.


Second Reading: 1 John 3:1-2.21-24


Introduction to the reading: The first letter of John was written for the community whose leader produced the fourth Gospel. Today’s passage describes in very familiar and understandable terms our close relationship with God.


A reading from the First Letter of Saint John.


See what love the Father has given us,
that we should be called children of God,
and so we are.
The reason why the world does not know us
is that it did not know him.  
Beloved, we are God’s children now;
it does not yet appear what we shall be,
but we know that when he appears we shall be like him,
for we shall see him as he is. 

Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us,
we have confidence before God;
and we receive from him whatever we ask
because we keep his commandments
and do what pleases him.
And this is his commandment,
that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ
and love one another, just as he has commanded us.
All who keep his commandments abide in him,
and he in them.
And by this, we know that he abides in us,
by the Spirit which he has given us.

The word of the Lord.


Alleluia, alleluia.
Open our hearts, O Lord, that we may give heed to the words of your Son.


Gospel: Luke 2:41-52

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke.

The parents of Jesus went to Jerusalem every year
at the feast of the Passover.
And when he was twelve years old,
they went up according to custom;
and when the feast was ended,
as they were returning,
the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem.
His parents did not know it,
but supposing him to be in the company
they went a day’s journey,
and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintances;
and when they did not find him,
they returned to Jerusalem, seeking him.
After three days they found him in the temple,
sitting among the teachers,
listening to them and asking them questions;
and all who heard him were amazed
at his understanding and his answers. 

And when they saw him they were astonished;
and his mother said to him,
“Son, why have you treated us so?
Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously.” 

And he said to them, “How is it that you sought me?
Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” 

And they did not understand the saying which he spoke to them.
And he went down with them and came to Nazareth,
and was obedient to them,
and his mother kept all these things in her heart. 

And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature,
and in favour with God and mankind.

The Gospel of the Lord



Reflection on the Readings 

The leader reads the text prepared by the priest and leads the sharing.



In an audience, Pope Paul VI told how one day, when he was Archbishop of Milan, he went out on parish visitation. During the course of the visitation he found an old woman living alone. ‘How are you?’ he asked her. ‘Not bad,’ she answered. ‘I have enough food, and I’m not suffering from the cold.’ ‘You must be reasonably happy then?’ he said. ‘No, I’m not’, she said as she started to cry. ‘You see, my son and daughter-in-law never come to see me. I’m dying of loneliness.’ 


Afterwards he was haunted by the phrase ‘I’m dying of loneliness’. And the Pope concluded: ‘Food and warmth are not enough in themselves. People need something more. They need our presence, our time, our love. They need to be touched, to be reassured that they are not forgotten’


The gospel today describes an incident when Jesus was twelve years old. His family had gone up to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, which lasted eight days. There was a great procession to Jerusalem, with many villages represented. They all watched out for each other’s children.


Joseph, Mary, and Jesus, traveling along with the others, surely must have enjoyed the big holy days—the reading of the Haggadah, and especially the Seder and its special foods, songs, and customs. These were the focal point of the Passover celebration. As expected, Jesus, obedient, stayed with his parents. 


Finally Passover was concluded, and those who had arrived now must go home. Imagine reassembling the convoy and putting everything in order. But it was like a huge family, so you knew your child would be with friends or relatives when he was not by your side.


Road dust, camels, walking and riding now dominated. But it was a happy time. Friends retold the stories, remembering the earliest acts of God on behalf of his people.


The sun began to sink and discrete families came together for sleep. Mary surely said, “Joseph, I think we should look for Jesus. He is probably talking with his friends as usual.” Little did she know. But no relative or friend had seen him anywhere. He was last sighted the day before.

In Jerusalem.


Mary’s heart must have broke in two. What mother on earth cannot imagine it? My child is missing. My child. Gone. Mary and Joseph left the caravan, went back, and scoured the cramped city. Day One, looking everywhere, no sign of him. They sleep an hour or so. Day Two, searching every place, asking everyone, following every trail. He was simply not there. Images of accidents, kidnapping, slavery, and so many more hovered just beneath their consciousness. 


Day Three. They returned to the temple, this time finally daring in their panic to enter directly into the utterly private rooms where teachers and Rabbis debated major and minor points of scripture. No regular people were allowed there, especially poor travellers.


But there Jesus sat. Perfectly at home for these three long days, the twelve year old, questioning teachers and answering them. 

Joseph asks: “Son, how could you? How could you?”

Jesus’ answer was odd and we are told that Mary pondered it in her heart for years to come. 


Jesus said: ‘Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that
I must be in my Father’s house?’ 

We begin to see some of the consequences in Mary’s life as a result of her consent to God. She must undergo the suffering of a parent whose son’s ways cause her pain and questions. Besides the Spirit’s presence in her life, the cross is also showing signs of its presence. We know that through Luke’s gospel the cross “overshadows” Jesus’ life – but we begin to see that it overshadows the family’s life as well. It has already begun to show itself as Jesus chooses a way of life that will bring suffering before it brings new life. 


The gospel reminds us that the parents “did not understand what Jesus said to them.” Mary and Joseph, like Jesus’ disciples – and us as well – will have to walk by the light of faith that enables them to trust God, even when an answer to problems and pain is not immediately apparent. 


Obviously Jesus needed a good spanking if he supposed that desertion of his parents was perfectly fine. Yet think about it. Jesus did not come to earth in order to be Mary and Joseph’s child. Just the opposite. Mary and Joseph came into earthly existence to prepare this boy for his role as the Christ, the son of the Father of all things. And of course, every family’s duty is to send their children out from home when they have become adults. 


When they returned to Nazareth, Jesus was obedient to his parents and that he “advanced in wisdom and age and favour before God and humans.” This growth didn’t happen in his sleep. Jesus is part of a human family, devout Jews, who passed on their faith and their family customs to their son. 


Jesus’ parents taught and nourished Jesus into manhood. God’s taking flesh among us means Jesus grew and matured the way we do — under the influence of his parents, extended family, friends and neighbours. Jesus was not raised in the Temple, in a rarefied atmosphere, far from the influence of his family. Instead, he was very much immersed among people who cherished, nourished and stood by him, even though they didn’t fully understand him. 


Just as the Holy Family survived all its crises through love for each other and faith in God, let us pray during this Mass that our families will conquer all difficulties through love for each other and faith in God.


From today’s Gospel reading:

He went down with them and came to Nazareth,
and was obedient to them;
and his mother kept all these things in her heart.


We will accompany Mary as she periodically appears in the gospel of Luke. With her we will look and listen at the unfolding events and join her as we keep “all these things” in our heart.

So, we ask ourselves:  

  • What was meaningful for me in the readings today?
  • Do I have a regular practice of reflecting on the significance of the day’s events?
  • Do I accompany those reflections with regular meditation on God’s Word in the scriptures?


Prayer of the Faithful 


Leader: Let us ask the Father to hear our prayers as we try to live a life for each other. 




We pray for Pope Francis: (pause) that he may continue to proclaim the beauties of true human love, the love destined for the love of heaven.



We pray for all bishops, priests and leaders in the Church: (pause) that they may be wise and strong in offering the freedom that comes through the truth.



We pray for all the people of the Church: (pause) that they may show the power of God in the love that knows no bounds.



We pray for our families: (pause)
that they may be inspired by the love and humility of the Holy Family at Nazareth.


We pray for peace in our world: (pause)
that this Christmas season may bring goodwill between nations and build peace on justice as the foundation of all family relationships.


In hope, we pray for healing during the pandemic: (pause)

that the Holy Spirit may guide all our people be fully vaccinated. We pray for the conversion of those who spread lies and misinformation.



We pray for members of our families and friends who have died and those whose anniversaries occur about this time.



We pray for Sr Notburga, who died during the week.  

Eternal rest grant unto her O Lord.


And let perpetual light shine on her.  

May she rest in peace.  Amen.


Leader: Let us pray together the prayer for families:



we pray for the many needs of families:  

for abundant love, 

for forgiveness and reconciliation, 

for a living faith to face the challenges of each day. 
Jesus, you were born into a human family 

and became our brother.  

You know well what families need 

to nourish both children and parents 

in long-lasting bonds of love and respect.  

Help all families to turn to you as their source of life.  

May your Spirit encourage husbands and wives, 

mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters.  

Give us all the eyes to appreciate one another 

and to be grateful for the gift of families. 

We ask this through Christ our Lord.  



Spiritual Communion

We can unite ourselves to the Eucharist through making a spiritual Communion.

By making an Act of Spiritual Communion, we express our faith in Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist and ask him to unite himself with us. 


My Jesus, I believe you are really here in the Blessed Sacrament.
I love you more than anything in the world, and I hunger to receive you.
But since I cannot receive Communion at this moment, feed my soul spiritually. I unite myself to you now as I do when I receive you. Amen.




Leader: Let us pray to the Father in the words Jesus our Saviour gave us: 


All say: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  Amen.


Leader: Lord God,
you were pleased to give us
the shining example of the Holy Family.
Graciously grant that we may imitate them
in practicing the virtues of family life
and in the bonds of charity,
and so,
in the joy of your house
delight one day in eternal rewards.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son
who lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
One God, for ever and ever, 


All: Amen.


Leader: May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life.


All: Amen.



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