The feast is young, dating only from 1893, but the mystery it celebrates – Jesus’ human family – is as old as the gospel. It’s older still if we go back to God’s command to the first man and woman to “be fruitful and multiply” (Gen 1:28). Strangely, however, the gospel itself offers little support for conventional family life. Jesus’ family was uniquely different, and time and again he gave priority to discipleship over family – for himself, first of all, and then for others. It is the letters of Paul that adopt and adapt the social norms of the day for family life. Now the task is more urgent than ever.
The week’s prayer focus
As we bid farewell to one year and welcome the next, we look to Mary, a woman of faith, and with her pray for God’s blessing. Holy One, uncover your face for us, let your light shine upon us, and bring us your peace.
These intercessions are offered for selected use at Sunday Mass in the parish alongside those that express local needs and concerns
Dear friends, as a child in a human family Jesus grew in age and wisdom. Let us pray for God’s favour to be upon us and upon our world.
- We pray for the human family as this year comes to close. May the start of a new year renew in all the peoples of the world a fresh sense of their interdependence on earth. (Pause for silent prayer) Lord, hear us.
- We pray for the individual families of every nation, in all their diversity. May the family home be a place of love, joy, respect and mutual support. (Pause for silent prayer) Lord, hear us.
- We pray in thanksgiving for families in which children are cherished, and faith is nourished. May family members grow together in wisdom and grace. (Pause for silent prayer) Lord, hear us.
- We pray for families in places of war, natural disaster or human destruction. May they bond together for the strength they need to survive such harsh conditions. (Pause for silent prayer) Lord, hear us.
- We pray for families divided by hate, fear, envy or suspicion. With the help of God’s grace may the wounds of division be healed and family members reconciled. (Pause for silent prayer) Lord, hear us.
- We pray for those who are widowed, divorced or separated and for parents who have suffered the loss of a child. May their pain and sorrow be eased and the joy of life return. (Pause for silent prayer) Lord, hear us.
- We pray for the newly married and those about to be married. May the love they pledge one another be faithful, fruitful and strong. (Pause for silent prayer) Lord, hear us.
- We pray for ourselves. May we look back on the past year in thankfulness and look ahead to the new year with hope. (Pause for silent prayer) Lord, hear us.
- We pray for the recently deceased . . . and for those whose anniversary of death occurs around this time. May they be led safely to their true homeland in heaven. (Pause for silent prayer) Lord, hear us.
Loving God and Source of all life, you sent your Son to be born in our flesh and to grow up within a human family. Help us follow him until we are called forth from this life into the love you share as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We ask this through Christ our Lord.