After the shepherds receive the good news from the angel, they follow the sign to find the savior. They tell everyone they meet, including Joseph and Mary that this child is indeed special, the Son of God and Savior of the world. It is hard for people to understand what all this means; even Mary, still young in her faith journey, can’t fully grasp all that the shepherds say. We are told, however, that she kept the words of the shepherds in her heart… words that she would reflect on throughout her life. Eight days later, Mary and Joseph take Jesus to the temple where he is named Jesus.
Reflection for Families
When we first held our children in our arms, we wondered so many things about them. Who will they become? What will they do with their lives? What will their growing up years yield? Like Mary, we “held these things in our hearts” and probably are still holding. But, what we can learn from Mary? She trusted, though not fully understanding. What thoughts would have gone through her mind knowing that the name “Jesus” meant “savior”? We don’t know our own future or the future of our children. What we do know is that God loves us enough and wants us to share in the kingdom enough that he gave us his Son.
Bringing the Gospel into Your Family
Today would be a good day to remember the sacrament of Baptism and connect it to the ritual action of naming Jesus in the temple. Take some time after a meal or at the end of the day to talk about every family member’s name, what their name means, why they were named as they were, who else in the family (or family history) shares the names, and family stories connected with the name. Share symbols, photographs, and memories from family baptisms.
- Some of the thoughts I treasure in my heart are…
- There is someone I would like to tell about Jesus. When I do, this is what I will say…
- God has blessed me especially in this past year by…
Feast Day: December 30
When a Sunday does not occur between December 25 and January 1, this feast is celebrated on December 30. St. Joseph doesn’t get much space in the New Testament, but the Gospel for this feast day shows him in the role of protector of the infant Jesus and his mother, Mary. This Gospel tells the story of how Joseph protected Jesus from King Herod.
The king was worried when he heard that a child had been born who would be the king of the Jews. He asked the wise men to search for this child in Bethlehem and then come back to report to him. He told the wise men he wanted to pay homage to the new king. But the wise men were warned in a dream not to go back to Herod.
Fearing a new king, Herod sent soldiers to kill all the male children in Bethlehem who were two years old or younger. Joseph, warned by an angel, fled with his family to Egypt to escape Herod’s plot. There they lived as strangers in a strange land until King Herod died, when Joseph could safely move the family back to Nazareth.
[from Pflaum Gospel Weeklies]
God, thank you for a new year. May everyone in our family be willing to begin anew with a clean slate. We know that you are always ready to forgive us. Help us to be willing to forgive ourselves and to forgive one another.
As we begin a new year, remind us of our truest values and our deepest desires. Help us to live in the goodness that comes from doing what you want us to do. Help us to put aside anxiety about the future and the past, so that we might live in peace with you now, one day at a time.
[from Loyola Press]
In today's Gospel, we learn that Mary honored her commitment to God by naming her child Jesus, the name given to him by the angel Gabriel. In Matthew's Gospel, Joseph is told to name the child Jesus because he will save the people. The name Jesus means "God saves." Even in his name, Jesus announces the mission he came to accomplish.
Your family might use today's feast as an opportunity to talk about names. Reflect together on the name of each member of the family. What does each name mean? Why was each person so named?
Read together today's Gospel, Luke 2:16-21. Recall that the name Jesus means "God saves." Think about how Jesus fulfilled the mission that his name suggests. Pray as a family that each family member will fulfill their mission to be faithful followers of Jesus, in whom we find our salvation. Pray for Mary's help by praying together the Hail Mary or singing together, "Sing of Mary, Pure and Lowly."