Living In Hope: The Holy Family

December 28, 2019

Advent and Christmas are my favorite seasons of the year.  They capture the very reason I hope in the first place. For the next 6 weeks of Advent and Christmas Retreat, we will be Living in Hope!  Each week, we will focus on one person or persons who helps us live in hope through reflection questions, suggested action, and prayer — including the text of the Sunday readings for easy access.

**Registration for the Online Busy Person’s Retreat, January 27-30, is OPEN NOW! This is the personalized, one-on-one retreat that comes to you and fits into your busy life! Register here

WEEK 5: The Holy Family

Merry Christmas!  I hope your celebration of Jesus’ birthday was full of joy! 

Our companion for the week is the Holy Family. As Pope Francis reminded us during his visit to the United States in 2015, Jesus was sent to a family.   Jesus learned about love, mercy, and hope through the concrete gestures of holiness that Mary and Joseph offered him growing up.

We, too, learn that we are loved and how to love by the concrete gestures of holiness we experience in our families and in our communities.   This week, we will explore how the Holy Family modeled this for us.  In addition, I invite you to consider what gestures of holiness are you being invited to offer to others? 


1.  Who helped you know that you were loved? 

2.  Who helps you know that you were capable of loving?  

3.  What concrete gestures of holiness in your own family and/or community taught you about God’s love for you and how to hope in God? 

4.  Where do you feel called to put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, and patience as the second reading this Sunday suggests? 

5.  What concrete gestures of holiness are you being invited to offer others in your family and community?

Action:  Act of Service

As we look to the Holy Family for inspiration during the Christmas season, we come to understand their lives by their acts of service.  Giving sacrificially was a call for each of them.  When we model our lives after the Holy Family, giving of ourselves together is a great action to begin with.

In what ways could you and your family give of yourselves during this Christmas season?  Finding a way to do so together will help deepen the celebration of the true meaning of Christmas.  

Praying with the Word of God:

The below Readings are from the Sunday Readings for the Feast of the Holy Family.  Pick one reading each day for prayer. Throughout the week, repeat the scriptures that capture your attention.

If you would like to pray with the daily readings this week in addition to the Sunday readings, the USCCB posts them daily here.

When praying with scripture, I invite you to try the prayer methods of Lectio Divina or Ignatian Contemplation. Here’s a one-page guide to Praying with Scripture and a handy Lectio Divina prayer card. 

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary & Joseph
Lectionary: 17

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

God sets a father in honor over his children;
a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons.
Whoever honors his father atones for sins,
and preserves himself from them.
When he prays, he is heard;
he stores up riches who reveres his mother.
Whoever honors his father is gladdened by children,
and, when he prays, is heard.
Whoever reveres his father will live a long life;
he who obeys his father brings comfort to his mother.

My son, take care of your father when he is old;
grieve him not as long as he lives.
Even if his mind fail, be considerate of him;
revile him not all the days of his life;
kindness to a father will not be forgotten,
firmly planted against the debt of your sins
—a house raised in justice to you.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 128:1-2,3,4-5

R. (cf. 1)  Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways.
Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD,
who walks in his ways!
For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork;
blessed shall you be, and favored.
R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways.
Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
in the recesses of your home;
your children like olive plants
around your table.
R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways.
Behold, thus is the man blessed
who fears the LORD.
The LORD bless you from Zion:
may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life.
R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways.
Reading 2: Colossians 3:12-21

Brothers and sisters:
Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,
heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,
bearing with one another and forgiving one another,
if one has a grievance against another;
as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.
And over all these 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.
And be thankful.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,
as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another,
singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs
with gratitude in your hearts to God.
And whatever you do, in word or in deed,
do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him.  

Wives, be subordinate to your husbands,
as is proper in the Lord.
Husbands, love your wives,
and avoid any bitterness toward them.
Children, obey your parents in everything,
for this is pleasing to the Lord.
Fathers, do not provoke your children,
so they may not become discouraged.

Gospel: Matthew 2:13-15,19-23

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,

which means “God is with us.”
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home.

Go Deeper?  

Inviting you Deeper as We Walk with Christ: 

Becky is an Ignatian-trained spiritual director, retreat facilitator, and writer. She is the author of the Busy Lives and Restless Souls (March 2017, Loyola Press) and The Inner Chapel (April 2020, Loyola Press). She helps others create space to connect faith and everyday life through facilitating retreats and days of reflection, through writing, and through spiritual direction. With nearly twenty years of ministry experience within the Catholic Church, Becky seeks to help others discover God at work in the every day moments of people’s lives by utilizing St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises and the many gifts that our Catholic faith and Ignatian Spirituality provide.

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