“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.

Amen

Prayer by Father Joe Veneroso, M.M.

ABOUT MARYKNOLL

We are a Catholic Society of priests and brothers based in the United States. We are dedicated to missionary work overseas in over 20 countries. Additionally, we animate Catholics in the United States to follow their own baptismal call to share God’s compassion and love with the poor, the sick, and all those in need.

OUR GENERAL COUNCIL

L-R Tom O'Brien, Ray Finch, Joe Everson, Russ Feldmeier

(Fr. James M. Lynch, Fr. Lam M. Hua, Fr. Lance P. Nadeau, Fr. Timothy O. Kilkelly)

The Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers is overseen by our General Council, led by Superior General Rev. Lance P. Nadeau, M.M.

OUR FOUNDERS

L-R Tom O'Brien, Ray Finch, Joe Everson, Russ Feldmeier

(Our Co-Founders Father Price and Father Walsh)

PLACES WE SERVE

EVANGELIZATION, PARISHES, AND PROJECTS

USA

STORIES OF MISSION

(Africa) Education and Formation of African Clergy

The Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers Africa Region will provide tuition assistance to African clergy, male and female religious at institutes of higher education or specialized training. Read More

Stories of Our Global Mission

The calling of a lifetime

The life of a Maryknoll missioner is challenging, fulfilling, and deeply rewarding. Follow your baptismal call to mission by sharing God’s compassion with the poor, the sick, and people most in need.

L-R Tom O'Brien, Ray Finch, Joe Everson, Russ Feldmeier
“Go where you are needed but not wanted, and stay until you are wanted but not needed.”
– Bishop James E. Walsh, M.M.
First Maryknoll Bishop
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