Feast of the Holy Family

December 31, 2017 / By: Josh Hengemuhlest

Gn 15:1-6; 21:1-3/Heb 11:8, 11-12, 17-19/Lk 2:22-40 or 2:22, 39-40

December 31st this year is the Feast of the Holy Family.  While each member of that family has their own individual feast days, the Sunday after Christmas is set aside as a feast to celebrate their life together, recognizing that a family – any family – is more than a mere collection of individuals, but rather its own unique unit, made whole by the presence of each member and the interactions within those connections. 

Each of us is a member of a family.  Each of these families are as unique and varied as the people of the world who make up our families, and we are formed and shaped by the families of which we are a part.  On this feast day, it is good to remember that these families - all families - are called to holiness; to be a holy family.  No matter the complicated backstories we have, or the conflicts our family experiences, each of us is called to strive for our individual holiness and the holiness of our family. 

That’s no easy task! However, in today’s readings, Paul gives us some good starting points as to how we should strive to be within our families, calling us to compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, and peace.  Those are some solid ground rules for holiday family gatherings, and for our life together in a family on a daily basis.   

How often do we live up to those values in our family life? How often might we fall short?  If you’re at all like me, sometimes I am at my worst with my family, and have failed to show the compassion, patience, and forgiveness that Paul is calling us towards.  I know my family deserves those things from me; I know I can do better. 

And, in a convenience of the calendar, today is also New Year’s Eve, a time when many of us think of things we may wish to change or work towards in the year to come.  So, in that spirit, and the spirit of today’s feast day, I will reflect on those times I haven’t acted in line with those values that advance the holiness of my family, and I must make a commitment to renew my efforts toward my family, seeking God’s holiness in our life. 

Josh Hengemuhle, Ed.D.
Assistant Dean for Orientation & Retention
Dean of Students Office