We like to think of the Holy Family as “perfect” full of joy and problem free but like most the other families that wasn’t really the case. I am sure it was a happy family but like each one of our families it contained aspects which even in today’s world would make people consider it holy but considerably less than perfect. To begin with, years ago people would have considered wedding of Mary and Joseph a shot-gun wedding in that Mary was pregnant before their wedding day. Because of Mary’s pregnancy, which Joseph had no part in, Joseph considered legally putting off the wedding as many men, even today, would consider legally canceling the wedding. Since I was ordained a priest I have prepared usually at least six couples for their wedding each year and so far four couples after completing the preparation program as FOCCUS decided to cancel their wedding in that they became aware of unacceptable aspects of their proposed partner that were new to them. A third aspect of Joseph and Mary family which made it less than perfect, was that their only son when he was 12 years old essentially ran away from home and didn’t return for three days. He only returned after Mary and Joseph abandoned what they were doing and spent days trying to find him. When they found him he told them that he felt he was ready to begin the ministry God was calling him to. Being good parents, they brought him back home and as Scripture tells us, he gained in wisdom and knowledge. For the next 15 or so years Jesus apparently was a faithful son, learning the carpenter trade from his dad and took care of his mother after his dad had died. During those years Jesus not only learned the carpenter trade but prepared himself for the ministry he recognized at 12 years old was to be his life’s work.
Scripture doesn’t provide us with any significant details of that preparation nor many details of his family life but it does indicate that his relationship with his mother was good as evidenced by the detail of Jesus’ first miracle, changing water into wine at a wedding celebration when his mother told the wine attendants to do as Jesus told them. One other Scriptural details of their family involvement is the instance when Jesus’ mother, brothers and sister came to one of his speaking engagements and wanted to rescue him because they felt he had gone off the deep end in the way he was exercising his ministry as an iterant preacher.
I believe it can be concluded from other Scriptural details that Jesus’ family was religious, loving the Jewish religion but it was less than perfect in being required to dea with human issues on a daily basis just like families today who are required to leave their homes and all their possessions because they are being persecuted.
Here are some things to think about as we look at the Holy Family. First your family and mine are not ordinary in God’s eyes. Every family is special to him and each is provided what they need to satisfy their ministry no matter how difficult it might seem at the time. Consider Mary’s role to accept pregnancy by the Holy Spirit in addition to losing her husband, having a son who she difficulty understanding, then seeing her son falsely accused and then murdered for political reasons. And then there is Joseph’s role to accept a woman who possibly was unfaithful to him and a son who was faithful but, without question difficult to understand. And then there is Jesus who could have continued as a carpenter but was willing to follow his ministry as the Messiah even though it resulted in him being executed.
Can you imagine the discussions they had at their dinner table as they jointly discussed what doing the will of God meant for them as a family, a Holy family. God provides each of us individually and as a holy and happy family whatever it takes to accept the good, bad, and difficult in our lives to be holy, and happy individuals and families just as he did for the Holy family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.