Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Holy Family

Boy Jesus Teaching the Elders in the Temple
Today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family. It is always the Sunday after Christmas. On Dec 28th we have the feast of the Holy Innocents. That is when we remember the children in Bethlehem who were killed by King Herod. In recent times it has become traditional to think about abortion at that time. The modern massacre of children that continues in our society. Yet it is interesting that of the two feasts the Holy Family is considered greater. That is that focusing on how to do family right is more important than thinking about how badly society is currently doing with children. We don't ignore those dying from abortion but we want to give a Yes to how we should raise children more than we want to say No to what we are currently doing. That is true even when we are seeing the massive moral failure that abortion represents today. 

The story in the gospel is interesting. Jesus is a 12 years old. The go to Jerusalem for the Passover like they do every year. Jesus stays behind. His parents don't know. It takes them 3 days to find Him. You would think with a sinless mother and a sinless child stuff like this would not happen. Families are like that. When you think you have things figured out something happens to shock you. Kids are growing up and they are much more complex than we give them credit.

The other thing that happens is we underestimate the power of religious rituals. They went to the Passover every year. It became a little bit routine. A bit like going to church or doing family devotions can become routine for us. Yet these sort of things are quite powerful. Just because it is routine for us does not mean it is routine for our kids. When something impacts them we might not be ready for it. That is OK.

Then there is the 3 days. The span of time that is pointing forward to the 3 days that Jesus spends in the grave. The reality of the family is the reality of love. We can suffer when children make sinful choices and brings bad consequences on themselves. Yet there is the other side. They make good choices. Yet their love leads to suffering. It is still hard for the parents. 

It says they didn't understand. That Mary took these things into her heart. They talk about the difference between creating something out of knowledge or creating something out of love. If we build something with out knowledge we always understand it. Yet it is limited. It can never do more than what we know how to do. 

When we love another person there is no such limit. We often don't know what is going on because there is a relationship between God and this other person which we mostly don't see. Yet it is not limited by our knowledge either. Our children can end up being much greater than us. That is where the real joy comes. Not that we reproduced ourselves. Any ape can do that. What is great is when our children are able to love God and to bless people in ways we never could.     

1 comment:

  1. The greatest thing I learned this year about the Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple is the remarks of Saint Ambrose. He said that this was a foreshadowing of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus: at the right time (12=perfection) Jesus is "lost" but on the third day is "found", and from this Mary learned/pondered that She would someday lose Jesus but get Him back. She knew He would Resurrect, which is why She didn't go to the tomb on Sunday.