Every time the Feast of the Holy Family comes, I am filled with great joy. We have our biological family, our church family, and many other families that we belong to. There can be much joy during this special Christmas season.
On the other hand there can be much sorrow when this feast comes at the end of holidays. I have talked to many people that are grieving over lost family members, memories of stolen moments, and times of regret. I have come to believe that there is no perfect family, no perfect childhood and no perfect life. By taking time to look at the life of Jesus we can see that his life had much joy but much hardship as well.
In the Gospel today, Jesus was to be presented at the temple in Jerusalem for purification at the temple. In another version of this story by another apostle it was written that Jesus stayed three days with the religious leaders. Jesus amazed the teachers and rabbis by teaching them about the history of the Jewish people and about the coming Messiah. And they were amazed!!!
But there was a down side to this experience. Joseph and Mary had come in a caravan from Nazareth with other people. Jesus had not told his parents that he would not be joining them for the way home would be staying in Jerusalem. They frantically looked for him for three days before they found him. I wonder what Mary and Joseph said to him about their worry and concern. Jesus is reported to have said that he needed to be about his Father’s business. But, I wonder how he apologized to his mother and dad for not telling them that he was not meeting them for the caravan home.
Someone told me to reflect on this story when one of my children did something that brought pain to me and my family. He reminded me that every family has difficulty and worry at times and that it is to be expected. I am sure that I did not respond with the graciousness and kindness as Joseph and Mary did. But I do try.
Many of you shared much joy with your family these last few days. There was so much love ebbing and flowing throughout the house and across the miles. It was easy to be joy filled when memories are experienced and remembered. If your family was like mine we remembered the true love that filled us, surrounded us, and warmed us.
It is the love we have for the people that are our family. It is love that makes sacrifices easy and the willingness to forgive easy. Presents are not what we seek. It is the love we have for each other and the love that we have for God. Each day, each year, each moment love is transforming our towns, cities and country.
We also need to share love and compassion with the people who are not in our immediate family. Grief and loneliness can come upon people with terrible speed and surround them with an unexpected cloak of mourning. Someone in our JOS family remembered that her had father died on Christmas Eve. Many of our loved ones are not here but are with us in the great Love of God. Love surrounds the grieving, the joyous, the frightened, the homeless and the aging. As we reach out to find others to surround them with love, we are witnessing to the great love the members of the Holy Family have shown us. It is our obligation and our privilege to love all of the individuals in all of our families we know.
“What we have once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose, for all that we
love deeply become part of us”. Helen Keller
“When there is sorrow, there is holy ground”. Oscar Wilde
“We do not love people so much for the good they have done us, as for the good
we have done them”. Leo Tolstoy
“A woman or man with outward courage dares to die.
A man or woman with inward courage dares to live”. Lao Tzu