Today’s Gospel: Luke 2:41-52
Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
Today’s Gospel tells a familiar story: the time Jesus was lost and then found in the Temple after Passover. At this point in His life, Our Lord was on the cusp of becoming a young man, and He was getting ready to do His Heavenly Father’s work here on earth. The Gospel tells us that it was a tradition for the Holy Family to travel to Jerusalem for the Passover feast, and that they traveled with their extended family to the celebrations. When Passover is over and the family leaves the Holy City to journey home, Jesus gets left behind in the shuffle. Mary and Joseph assume that Jesus is somewhere with the family and spend at least a day searching for Him among the many aunts, uncles, and cousins. They finally realize that Jesus isn’t there, and Mary and Joseph search for their Son throughout Jerusalem; when they finally locate Him — in the Temple — Jesus is surprised that it wasn’t the first place they searched. Mary and Joseph were obviously upset, and when Jesus returned home with them, the Gospel tells us He was obedient to them, growing in “wisdom and age and favor before God and man.”
This familiar Gospel story is an echo of the first two readings and, indeed, the Responsorial Psalm, which all give us Scriptural examples of how a family ought to operate. Throughout the Old Testament, God instructed His people through the prophets, trying to show them how a good family should be. Sirach told them that the father of the family is an honored position, that mothers are to be revered, and that children should honor their father and care for him in his old age. The Responsorial Psalm talks about how blessed a man who loves and fears the Lord will be, with a blessed life, a wife who loves and cares for him, and children to make his days happy. And Saint Paul’s letter to the Colossians talks about how families should love each other, respect each other, and treat each other with kindness and compassion. The one verse that seems to trouble modern Western minds (“Wives, be subordinate to your husbands”) is much less so when taken in context with the rest of St. Paul’s instruction to families: Each person in the family should treat each other with love and compassion and gentleness, and each should remember his or her place in the family.
The Holy Family is the perfect example for us all. After thousands of years of teaching through His prophets, God finally came to us Himself — in the form of a baby — to show us how to love within a family. To show us how children should behave, God became a child. To show how men should treat their elderly parents, God became a human with parents to care for. To show how spouses should love one another, God died for His Bride, the Church, in an act of complete and selfless giving.
Family life can be difficult. Every person has his own personality and needs in a family, but God desires us to learn to love each other through these needs, and sometimes even in spite of them. Am I giving myself in love to my family each day? Do I look to the Holy Family for my example of how a family ought to love each other?
Jesus, there are days I fail to love my family the way I should — the way You want me to love them. Help me to learn from Your Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph, Your foster father, so that I may love my family more perfectly, according to Your divine will. Help me to cherish them, and to ponder all of my memories in my heart, just as Your Blessed Mother, Mary, did as You grew up.
We thank our friends at The Word Among Us for providing our gospel reflection team with copies of Abide In My Word 2015: Mass Readings at Your Fingertips. To pray the daily gospels with this wonderful resource, visit The Word Among Us.
Copyright 2015 Christine Johnson