Sunday, 27 December 2009

The Feast of the Holy Family - December 27th

Luke 2:41-52 (in which the child Jesus is found in the temple)

Some people feel like today’s society has forgotten all about families. We worry that families don’t matter anymore. We long for days gone by, fond in our memory, for a time when the nuclear family was celebrated and protected.

In my youth we watched television shows about family and we wished we could be like them. Some wanted to be the perfect nuclear family like the Cleavers, others the perfect blended family like the Bradys, we wanted father to know best and mom to wear pearls in the kitchen. Today we see families in the media and we thank God that at least we’re not that bad. We’re not the Osbornes, we’re not the balloon boy’s family, I’m not John and she’s not Kate, with or without the eight.

That's when we can turn to the example of the Holy Family.

We don’t know much about the childhood of Jesus or the life of Mary, and I can imagine Mary as an old lady surrounded by the disciples of Christ asking her, “what was Jesus like as a child?” No doubt she told a great number of stories each of them revealing the very human nature of our Divine Lord, but this one, this story of the child in the temple beginning to make known and perhaps beginning to realize his divine nature all at once and at the same time would be the event that best foretold his great mission here on earth. This is the story Mary pondered in her heart. She and Joseph did not understand what he meant and that’s a very normal family.

When our own children do and say the things that cause us confusion and even heartbreak, God knows how we feel. God knows. No matter how we describe our family situation, what has happened or what challenges we face, God knows.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were not perfect people with all the answers. God chose them as part of a divine plan.

"They, too, had to listen to God’s call, and try every day to choose virtuous actions. Whole-hearted effort – not a perfect result – is what it means to be a “Holy Family”. (John Vella)

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