The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph
1 Samuel 1:20-22, 24-28
Psalm 84:2-3, 5-6, 9-10
1 John 3:1-2, 21-24
December 30, 2018
Today, as part of our Christmas season that will continue for two more weeks, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.
It might seem easy to think of the Holy Family as the “perfect family” without any problems. Joseph was a “righteous man” (Matthew 1:19), Mary was conceived without sin, and Jesus, well, Jesus was the Son of God. He must have been the perfect child, right?
Our opening prayer speaks of the “shining example of the Holy Family” and asks God to “graciously grant that we may imitate them.” If we think of the Holy Family as perfect, it might seem impossible for us to imitate their “shining example.”
They didn’t have to deal with conflicting sports and music practices along with busy work schedules. It would be easy to think they always did the right thing.
However, we can clearly read in the Bible that the Holy Family was not without its challenges. You see it in the Christmas story. Where was Jesus born? He was born in a stable and laid in a manger, hardly what anyone would call the perfect place for a birth!
Then, after the visit of the Magi, Joseph was told by angel to flee to Egypt with Mary and Jesus to escape the wrath of Herod who wanted to kill Jesus (Matthew 2:13-15). Imagine having to move your family to another country for safety. Again, hardly a perfect situation.
The next thing we hear about in the life of the Holy Family comes in today’s gospel. Of course, Mary and Joseph raised Jesus following the customs of a good Jewish family. That included going to Jerusalem for the Passover each year.
They did this for several years without scripture recording anything about their pilgrimages until Jesus was twelve years old.
What happened then? Joseph and Mary lost Jesus!
Imagine losing the Son of God! How are they going to explain that one to God?
Of course, they found him back in Jerusalem in his “Father’s house.” Where else would he be?
The point is that being the Holy Family was not without its challenges. Yes, Jesus is fully divine but he is also fully human. He experienced humanity as we experience it. He faced struggles as we face struggles.
Of course, his heavenly Father was always watching over him. God is also always watching over us for we are all children of God.
So, when we talk about imitating the “shining example of the Holy Family,” it is not an ideal that is impossible for us to follow that we are talking about.
What might we imitate about the Holy Family?
They listened to God’s direction. When God told Joseph through the angel in the dream to go to Egypt, Joseph did as God directed. Do we let God direct our lives or do we do it our way?
The Holy Family went to Jerusalem “according to festival custom.” Today’s passage specifically refers to the Passover that would be once a year. We might all know someone who comes to church once or twice a year at Christmas and/or Easter. However, the Holy Family did not keep just this one custom. They kept all the customs. They would have kept each Sabbath holy. For us, this means going to church every week. We do this to praise God and give him a chance to provide direction in our lives through his Word in scripture and to strengthen us with the Body and Blood of Jesus in the Eucharist.
How about during the week? The Holy Family prayed. Do you pray? Hannah prayed for the gift of a child. Do you pray for your children? (Children, do you pray for your parents?) Do you pray for yourself to fulfill your role in your family?
When Hannah was given the child she asked for, she “presented him at the temple” not just once at a ceremony but offering him in service to God throughout his life. Do you present your children to the Lord? Do you present yourself to the Lord?
If your life doesn’t go the way you want, ask yourselves if the way you seek is God’s way or is it your way? Mary said yes to God. Joseph did as the Lord directed. Do you?