Sir. 3:2-6,12-14 / Ps. 128:1-5 / Col. 3:12-21 / Lk. 2:22-40
Why did Jesus choose to become a baby born of a mother and father and to spend all but his last years living in an ordinary human family? In part, to reveal God’s plan to make all people live as one “holy family” in his Church (see 2 Corinthians 6:16-18).
In the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, God reveals our true home. We’re to live as his children, “chosen ones, holy and beloved,” as the First Reading puts it. The family advice we hear in this week’s readings — for mothers, fathers and children — is all solid and practical. Happy homes are the fruit of our faithfulness to the Lord, we sing in Sunday’s Psalm.
But the Liturgy is inviting us to see more, to see how, through our family obligations and relationships, our families become heralds of the family of God that he wants to create on earth. We see this in Sunday’s Gospel. Notice that Joseph and Mary aren’t identified by name, but are called “his parents” or referred to separately as his “mother” and “father.” The emphasis is on their “familial” ties to the “child Jesus.”
As the “firstborn” male of his family, Jesus is consecrated to the Lord. But he is also the firstborn of creation, and the firstborn from the dead, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers (Colossian 1:15, 18; Romans 8:29). Through him, through his holy family, all the families of the world will be blessed (see Ephesians 3:15).
It is significant, too, that all the action takes place in the Temple. The Temple we read is God’s house, his dwelling (see Luke 19:46). But it’s also an image of the family of God, the Church (see Ephesians 2:19-22; Hebrews 3:3-6; 10:21). In our families we’re to build up this household, this family, this living temple of God. Until he reveals his new dwelling among us, and says of every person: “I shall be his God and he will be My son” (see Revelation 21:3,7).