“Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” Luke 2:48
Yesterday, the Nativity of Our Lord, was a great family day for many, packed from beginning to end with tradition and celebratory moments. Most of us find purpose and meaning in our families, and Christmas is often when our expectations for “comfort and joy” are highest.
And yet… Christmas can be a lonely and painful time especially if there are disappointments or unresolved conflicts. Well, guess what? The Holy Family experienced conflict and tension, too. In some ways, they were like us: imperfect human beings struggling to overcome the challenges of their day—and trusting that with God’s help they would succeed.
Read Luke’s Gospel today and you’ll see what I mean. Jesus is already 12 years old now, accompanying his parents to Jerusalem for Passover. After the feast, the family returns home with a caravan of friends and relatives, but Jesus decides to stay behind—without telling his parents. Really?! When Mary realizes that her little boy is not traveling with the other children, she panics. She and Joseph return to Jerusalem filled with dread. Eventually, their search takes them to the temple where their child is actually sitting with the elders, asking and answering questions like a scholar. Mary couldn’t hold back her relief, but she wasn’t exactly happy either. She says, “Son, why have you done this to us?” I don’t know about you, but my sympathies are with Mary. When Jesus answers his mother with, “Why were you looking for me?,” don’t you wonder how Mary responds? What do you do with a child who is reprimanding his own parents? Luke doesn’t tell us, but just so you know, my mother wouldn’t have remained silent!
Throughout her life Mary endured many upsets just trying to be the best parent she could. And we have to believe that Joseph did, too. Were they always meek and mild in the face of events they couldn’t completely understand? Probably not. How did they resolve conflict? Ultimately, by trusting in God.
Healing a wounded family may seem beyond our ken at times. I realize that a change of heart
doesn’t happen in a few hours around the dinner table. And we all know that life isn’t a performance of A Christmas Carol. But when a rebirth happens, it’s so rewarding—it’s the very celebration of life that we memorialize in all the traditions of Christmas. Rebirth and renewal are possible if we just pause to ask ourselves, “How much healing can I offer someone right now? And how much healing am I willing to accept if offered to me?”
Friend, the Holy Family was not a collection of stick figures. These were real people who experienced sorrow, anxiety, and disappointment just like the rest of us. Who knows, maybe Mary and Joseph were the inspiration for St. Paul who taught us to always express “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another.”
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Father Lance Nadeau, M.M.
Feast of the Holy Family
Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
You have given us a beautiful example
of family and holiness by
overcoming problems, facing dangers
and resolving misunderstandings
by Your faith in God and through
Your love for one another.
Give us patience to endure setbacks,
courage to confront injustice
and faith to accept God’s will
even when we cannot be sure
of what to do.
Grant every family a mother’s love
a father’s wisdom and a son’s devotion
that our family might reflect Yours.
May we be ever mindful that a family is
made holy not by the absence of problems
but by the presence of God.
Prayer by Father Joe Veneroso, M.M.