The Feast of the Holy Family Year B

Sunday December 31, 2023

Mass Readings for the Feast of the Holy Family Year B

  • First ReadingSirach 3:2-6, 12-14: God honors the authority of parents. Respecting one's father and mother brings blessings, atonement for sins, and longevity. Caring for aging parents is a lasting act of kindness.
  • Alternate First Reading - Genesis 15:1-6; 21:1-3: God promises Abram a great reward, assuring him his own descendants will be numerous as stars. Abram's faith is counted as righteousness, and Sarah bears him a son, Isaac, as promised.
  • Responsorial PsalmPsalm 128: Those who revere the Lord and follow His ways are blessed. They will prosper in their work, have a fruitful family, and witness Jerusalem's prosperity throughout their lives.
  • Alternate Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 105: Thank the Lord and declare His deeds. Rejoice in seeking Him, remembering He is our God, whose just rule extends worldwide. He forever upholds His covenant with Abraham and Isaac.
  • Second ReadingColossians 3:12-21: As God's chosen, embrace compassion, kindness, humility, and patience. Forgive as the Lord forgave you and let Christ's peace rule your heart. In all things, act with thankfulness to God.
  • Alternate Second Reading - Hebrews 11:8, 11-12, 17-19: Abraham's faith led him to unknown lands and enabled him to father descendants despite old age and Sarah's sterility. His faith was tested when he offered Isaac, trusting in God's promise.
  • Gospel - Luke 2:22-40: Joseph and Mary presented Jesus at the temple, fulfilling the law. Simeon, guided by the Holy Spirit, recognized Jesus as the Messiah, prophesying His impact and Mary's future sorrow. The prophetess Anna also acknowledged Jesus, praising God and speaking of Him to those awaiting Jerusalem's redemption. Afterward, they returned to Nazareth, where Jesus grew strong and wise, with God's favor.

Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.

Luke 2:29-32

What Are the Themes for the Mass Readings for the Feast of the Holy Family Year B?

The readings for the Feast of the Holy Family Year B focus on the importance of family. The first reading tells of the wisdom and justice in honoring fathers. The alternate first reading, God promises that Abraham and Sarah will have a son. The psalm The second reading tells us how to live together as families. The alternate for the second reading recalls the story of Abraham and Sarah. And in the gospel Joseph and Mary take the infant Jesus to Jerusalem for the ritual of purification. There they meet Simeon and Anna, who both speak about Jesus' future.

  • Faithful Observance of Religious Tradition: Mary and Joseph's presentation of Jesus at the Temple demonstrates their adherence to Jewish law and tradition. This act exemplifies the importance of religious customs and rites in nurturing family faith and identity.
  • Recognition of Jesus by Simeon and Anna: The recognition of Jesus as the Messiah by Simeon and Anna symbolizes the discernment of God's presence in our lives. Their prophetic insights highlight the role of wisdom and spiritual maturity in recognizing God's work in the world.
  • Simeon's Prophecy and the Cost of Redemption: Simeon’s prophecy about Jesus being a sign that will be contradicted, and Mary’s heart being pierced by a sword, foreshadows the suffering and opposition that Jesus and His followers will encounter. This theme speaks to the reality of suffering in the Christian journey and the cost of redemption.
  • Joy and Praise in Encounter with Christ: Anna’s response of praise and speaking about the child to all highlights the joy and evangelistic zeal that comes from encountering Christ. This theme encourages sharing the good news with others, driven by joyous experience.
  • The Holy Family as a Model of Virtue: The entire episode reflects the virtues of the Holy Family: obedience, faith, patience, and humility. It offers a model for Christian families in living a life centered on God and His purposes.
  • Growth and Maturation in God's Grace: The final verse, mentioning Jesus growing and becoming strong, filled with wisdom, and the grace of God being upon Him, emphasizes the importance of growth in virtue and grace. It is a reminder that spiritual and moral development is a lifelong process nurtured within the family.

See the Homilies and Reflections section and the More Thoughts section for further expansion on these readings and some reflection questions for the Feast of the Holy Family Year B.

Resources for the Feast of the Holy Family Year B

Family Circle Icebreaker Game

This icebreaker offers a playful yet meaningful way to engage with the themes of the Feast of the Holy Family Year B. In this game, participants learn about each other's favorites, gradually forming one large "family." This activity echoes the Gospel of Luke (2:22-40), where the Holy Family's presentation of Jesus in the Temple symbolizes their unity and commitment to God's plan. The game can serve as a metaphor for how we, as members of the Church, are called to come together as one family, united in faith and love. Just as the Holy Family exemplifies obedience and dedication to God, this game encourages participants to listen, learn, and unite, reflecting the spiritual bond we share as God's children.

A Prayer for a Blessed Home

This prayer is based on Psalm 128, the responsorial psalm for the Feast of the Holy Family Year B. This prayer, seeking blessings for the home and family in following the Lord's ways, resonates with the themes of the Feast, particularly the emphasis on family unity and spiritual growth found in the readings. Just as the Holy Family exemplified a life of faith and obedience, this prayer encourages families to seek God’s guidance and blessings in their daily lives

Seeing Salvation – Reflection and Discussion Questions

This lesson provides a meaningful way to delve into the themes of the Feast of the Holy Family Year B, particularly the Gospel reading from Luke 2:22-40. This Gospel passage recounts the presentation of Jesus in the Temple, where Simeon and Anna recognize Him as the Messiah. The reflection questions help participants explore the significance of recognizing God in their lives, just as Simeon and Anna did. This mirrors the central theme of the Holy Family’s experience in the Temple, emphasizing the importance of discerning and celebrating God’s presence in our daily lives and families, aligning with the overall message of the Feast of the Holy Family.

Presentation of the Lord Crossword Puzzle

This crossword puzzle is an engaging and educational tool that connects directly to the Gospel reading for the Feast of the Holy Family Year B, Luke 2:22-40. This puzzle helps in deepening the understanding of the Gospel narrative, where Jesus is presented in the Temple, meeting Simeon and Anna. By engaging with this crossword youth can explore key elements and characters of the Gospel story in a fun and interactive way. This activity supports the reflection on the Holy Family’s commitment to religious observance and God’s plan, making the Gospel message more accessible and relatable, especially for younger audiences.

Homilies and Reflections for the Feast of the Holy Family Year B

Sunday December 31, 2023

What Makes a Family Holy?

In Bishop Robert Barron's homily for the Feast of the Holy Family Year B, he emphasizes that biblical holiness in a family stems from its willingness to surrender to God's purpose. He illustrates this with examples of key biblical figures like Joseph and Hannah. Bishop Barron acknowledges the value of practical, psychological advice for healthier family life, but he questions whether this alone makes a family holy. He argues that true holiness in family life, as demonstrated by Joseph and other biblical figures, involves prioritizing love for God over familial attachments. This, Bishop Barron asserts, is what strengthens a family's bond and defines its sanctity.

Our True Home

Scott Hahn reflects on the Feast of the Holy Family Year B, emphasizing Jesus' decision to live within an ordinary human family. This choice was to demonstrate God’s vision of uniting all as one “holy family” in the Church. The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph exemplifies our true home, guiding us to live as God's chosen and beloved children. The liturgy and readings urge us to recognize our family roles and relationships as ways to herald the family of God on earth.

More Thoughts for the Feast of the Holy Family Year B

A Blueprint for Christian Living

In the readings of the Feast of the Holy Family Year B, we encounter a profound invitation to transform our homes into sanctuaries of God's love and faithfulness. The Gospel of Luke, detailing the presentation of Jesus in the Temple, not only showcases the devotion of the Holy Family to religious observance but also underscores their deep-seated obedience to God’s will.

This narrative is a vivid portrayal of a family wholly committed to God, where each action and decision is rooted in faith and love. This example sets a high standard for us: to make our families not just units of societal function but embodiments of divine love, where every interaction is steeped in the virtues of faith and obedience exemplified by Mary, Joseph, and Jesus.

Similarly, the first reading for the Feast of the Holy Family Year B from Sirach reinforces this by emphasizing the respect and honor owed to parents, linking family life to spiritual obedience and reverence. It shows us that the familial bond is not just a social construct but a sacred covenant. The Holy Family, in their simple yet profound acts of faith, becomes a model for us, guiding us to see our family relationships as opportunities to practice God’s commandments, to foster virtues, and to grow in holiness.

As we meditate on these scriptures, we are called to assess and realign our family dynamics. Are we cultivating an environment where God’s word is not only revered but lived? Are we, like the Holy Family, putting obedience to God’s will at the forefront of our family life? These readings thus serve as a blueprint, urging us to build our domestic churches on the firm foundation of love, faith, and obedience to God, much like the Holy Family did.

Beyond Biology: Embracing the Church as Family

The Feast of the Holy Family Year B invites us to a deeper contemplation of family, urging us to look beyond our biological connections. The Gospel of Luke (2:22-40) presents the Holy Family not merely as a model of domestic virtue, but as an icon of the larger spiritual family God calls us to be part of. This narrative, where Jesus is presented in the Temple, symbolizes the integration of the individual family into the broader religious community.

The Temple, as a place of gathering, teaching, and worship, prefigures the Church. In this light, the Church emerges not just as a place of worship, but as a familial space where we, like Jesus, are presented and nurtured in faith. The interaction with Simeon and Anna demonstrates this connectedness. This redefinition of family challenges us to see our relationship with the Church in a new, familial light.

As we celebrate this feast, it becomes imperative to nurture both our biological families and our spiritual family – the Church. Just as Jesus, Mary, and Joseph lived their lives centered around the Temple, signifying their commitment to the wider community of believers, we too are called to invest in our church community.

The Church is a place where spiritual bonds are not just formed but deeply nurtured, where we learn to live out the virtues of faith, hope, and love in community with others. By strengthening these bonds, we mirror the Holy Family’s commitment to God’s plan and become active participants in the manifestation of His love and mercy in the world. In this way, our celebration of the Holy Family extends beyond admiration of a holy household to active participation in the expansive, spiritual family of the Church.

Reflection Questions for the Feast of the Holy Family Year B

Sunday December 31, 2023
  • How can we transform our homes into sanctuaries that reflect God's love and faithfulness, as shown by the Holy Family?
  • In what ways does my family practice obedience to God’s will, similar to the dedication shown by Mary, Joseph, and Jesus in the Gospel of Luke?
  • How do the virtues of faith, hope, and love manifest in my daily family interactions? Are there specific areas where we could improve?
  • Considering the respect and honor Sirach emphasizes towards parents, how does this teaching influence my understanding and practice of family relationships?
  • In what practical ways can we make our family relationships reflect the sacred covenant, rather than just social constructs, as inspired by the Holy Family?
  • How does my family's current dynamic align with the blueprint of love, faith, and obedience as modeled by the Holy Family? What changes might be necessary to align more closely with this ideal?
  • How do I view the Church in relation to my family life? Do I see it as an extension of my biological family, as a spiritual family where we grow in faith together?
  • Reflecting on Jesus’ presentation in the Temple, how do I integrate my family into the broader religious community and the life of the Church?
  • In what ways am I actively nurturing my spiritual bonds within the Church, and how does this mirror the commitment of the Holy Family to God’s plan?
  • Finally, how does my participation in the Church contribute to the manifestation of God’s love and mercy in the world, following the example set by the Holy Family?

Quotes and Social Media Graphics for the Feast of the Holy Family Year B

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The Feast of the Holy Family Year B

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