Gospel Reflection Questions

December 29, 2013 - Feast of the Holy Family 

Sunday, December 29, 2013 8:29:00 PM


December 29, 2013
Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23
13 When they [the Magi] had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him." 14 Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. 15 He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled, "Out of Egypt I called my son."
19 When Herod had died, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20 and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child's life are dead." 21 He rose, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go back there. And because he had been warned in a dream, he departed for the region of Galilee. 23 He went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, "He shall be called a Nazorean."
The church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Family the Sunday after Christmas, a time when many families have come together for the holidays. Because the reading describes Joseph, Mary and Jesus fleeing into Egypt as a family, some may presume that they are a family much like those with which we are familiar, even though we are aware that for many, the “family unit” can be very diverse. The typical family of Jesus’ day was different in a number of ways. The strongest emotional bond was between the mother and her oldest son. The bond between husband and wife was usually the weakest. The typical family was part of a large, extended family. It is likely that Mary and Joseph had relatives in Bethlehem. Because Nazareth was a small hamlet of about 100 persons, it is likely that everyone was part Jesus’ extended family.
Throughout his gospel, Matthew portrays Jesus as the fulfillment of the Hebrew prophecies regarding the messiah. In verse 15, Matthew quotes Hosea, a prophecy that originally referred to God calling Israel in the Exodus. To that end, Matthew describes Jesus as a kind of “second Moses.” Composing the historical events so that they mirror the events of another time would have been common at the time, and would have been understood by those for whom Matthew was writing. During a time of world famine, the Hebrew people found refuge in Egypt. Later in their history, Moses had to flee Egypt because a wicked pharaoh was killing infants that he believed to be a threat to his reign. As an adult, Moses was called by Yahweh to lead the Hebrew people out of Egyptian slavery to a new land and a new relationship. Matthew is making use of these very familiar events to shape his description of Jesus. He wants his community to understand Jesus as the “one God is using” to free them from the slavery of sin and death. They are also being invited into a new eternal relationship.
Reflection Questions:
1.      What have been the times of hardship or struggle for your family? How have such situations affected your family? What difficult choices were made? How were the family dynamics affected?
2.      Who in your family has helped shape the family’s relationship with God?
3.      What do you really know about Joseph? What kind of relationship do you think he had with God? How important was Joseph in the life and development of Jesus?
4.      If Joseph and Mary were the chosen parents of Jesus, how come they had to endure the kind difficult life that they did?
5.      If Jesus is Emmanuel, “God with us,” what does the period of Jesus’ early years on earth say to you?
6.      Joseph heard God speak to him in a dream. How does God speak to you? How clear is it when God speaks to you?
7.      How might God use struggle and/or adversity in your life? How would like to respond?
On Wednesday of each week, the Gospel and reflection questions for the upcoming Sunday are posted at the following link:http://il-ritiro.org/gospel-reflections.aspx.  You are invited to share your own reflection and comments with others at this website.
The reflection and questions are written by Fr. Paul Gallagher, OFM.  They are edited by Sister Anne Marie Lom, OSF and Joe Thiel.  To be added to the distribution list, send your name and email address to fr.paul.gallagher.ofm@gmail.com.  
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