The first reading is from the Wisdom of (ben) Sirach which is sometimes called Ecclesiaticus or even the Wisdom of Jesus, son of Sirach; it is what might be called a deutero-canonical book because its status as part of the canon (or official collection) of Scripture was not recognised by Jews resident in Israel; Protestant Bibles follow that shorter collection of the Old Testament; though Sirach was used by Jewish scholars and is included in the early Greek version of the Jewish Bible (called the Septuagint) and it is in all Catholic bibles. A lot of the wisdom in this book is about good relationships within families, society and between people in general – the section we hear today is a good illustration of this. The nature of the society from which this came is indicated by the absence of any reference to daughters. We should, however, when we apply this reading to ourselves, include in our thinking all members of families as well as single people.
In the second reading is a real call to Christians to play the part that they should be playing in God’s world. That means a whole lot of good attitudes and ones that deliver actions to match: compassion, kindness, humility etc. and perhaps the hardest of all, is to put up with those who bother us and forgive those who offend us. These are needed for the people of Colossae, but also for us, each in one’s own situation. A suitable reading for this celebration of the ideal family life that would be good for us all.
For the gospel we hear the last two of the five fulfillment stories in Matthew’s Infancy Narratives. They depict Jesus as the climax of the journey made by the chosen people from the time of Abraham to the entry into the promised land. Their history is about a ‘descent’ into Egypt firstly by Joseph, but thereafter by the rest them because of food shortage in their own land. Then there is the memorable escape from Egypt led by Moses through a hard and long desert journey eventual gaining their own land. So, Joseph in the New testament in accord with revelations from God’s messenger angel, goes down to Egypt and then later returns to settle in Nazareth – like a Nazarene (one specially dedicated to God). Families all make journeys in location, in the growth of their relationships with each other, and on their way to doing the will of God for them.
See Jeffs Jottings – God’s family