Today, as always on the Sunday after Christmas, our Church celebrates the feast of the Holy Family which is often an occasion for a pastor to urge attention to good treatment of family members. In the last years when both of my parents were alive, we listened to these sermons in Florida. We had already taken note of the lectionary reading from Sirach, ch. 3 which urged good behavior to all members within the family culminating in: “My son, take care of your father when he is old…” as we leaned forward in the pew with meaningful glances at my brother. Each of us (but mostly the men) got wordless encouragement to pay attention during the reading. It is a happy memory as we had been blessed with a very loving family and were looking askance at one another only in jest.
As we come to understand more and more these days our need for connection with our “brothers and sisters” around the world, the words of Paul’s letter to the Colossians (3:12-17) from today’s lectionary become a worthy template for our consideration. It is one of my favorite passages from the Bible so I quote it here in its entirety as a prayer for all of us and for our world today.
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. Forgive as the Lord has forgiven you. And over all these virtues put on love which binds the rest together. And let the peace of Christ reign in your hearts, since as members of Christ’s body you have been called to that peace. Always be thankful. Let the word of Christ, rich as it is, dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish each other, singing psalms and hymns and inspired songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.