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  Word To Life

Sunday Scripture Readings, Dec. 29, 2013

By Jean Denton
Catholic News Service

December 29, Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

Cycle A. Readings:

1) Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14

Psalm 128:1-5

2) Colossians 3:12-21

Gospel: Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23

It happened nearly 15 years ago, but I'll never forget the anguish in my brother-in-law's voice as he wrestled with the decision of whether to disconnect his 24-year-old son from life support.

Victim of a heart attack, the handsome, athletic young man named Matthew had been in a coma for two weeks with his mother, father and close family members constantly by his side at the hospital. Finally, the doctors told his parents that Matt's brain was no longer functioning.

"It goes against every instinct you have as a father," said Randy, his father, trying to make sense of the choice he and Matt's mother faced. "For his whole life, we only wanted to care for him and provide whatever he needed. That's what a parent does."

The situation defied the natural order. It defied God's design, in which the father creates every human life to be born into a family. It's God's intention that each individual comes into being within a familial embrace to provide nurture and security.

In this week's Gospel of Matthew, God commanded Joseph to take his wife and new infant Jesus away to Egypt to protect the child from a threat to his life. God had sent his own son into the world, providing him with a family, including an earthly father whose fundamental role was to protect him.

Just as Joseph was commanded by God to look out for his son, so is every member of every family called to care for and protect each other.

In his Letter to the Colossians, Paul explains how a holy family provides a secure, loving embrace by encouraging and sacrificing for its members. Within the intimate relationships of such a holy family is where each person can be nourished with God's presence and strength.

But, of course, human will often isn't enough to save a life. As Randy stared at that reality, he did so in the embrace of his family, including his beloved Matthew. Together as one with God's strength and love, they were able, still, to protect their son from harm.


How has your family been a source of encouragement and security for each member? How do you see God present and working within families you know?


"Put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body." -- Colossians 3:14-15


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