Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the
festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as
usual for the festival. When the festival was ended and they started to return,
the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it.
Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then
they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did
not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days
they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and
asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding
and his answers. When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother
said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I
have been searching for you in great anxiety.” He said to them, “Why were you
searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But
they did not understand what he said to them. Then he went down with them and
came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these
things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine
and human favor.
The Church has appointed this Sunday within the octave
of Christmas as the Feast of the Holy Family of Nazareth. It is the wish of the
Church that all Christian families to try to model their lives on the holiest
of families that ever lived on earth. No family can ever hope to be as perfect
as this one was, but every family must strive to imitate it if only from afar.
In Joseph, the father of the family has his model.
Patiently and humbly he worked at his carpenter’s bench to provide the
necessities of life for his wife and for the child Jesus. He could not always
give them all he would wish for them but he did what he could gladly and
humbly. To his neighbours he was just another carpenter, unknown to the world,
of no importance in their eyes, yet his name will be known and revered until
the end of time.
To many of you, if not most, who are fathers too, are
living a life of obscurity, a life of monotonous toil and a daily struggle to
provide bread for your family. You will never make the headlines in the news because
what you are doing, but you are playing an important and an essential part in
God’s plan for providing citizens for heaven.
If you carry out faithfully the task God has given
you, if you provide for and protect the wife and family God has committed to
your care you will make the headlines in the world to come, your names will be
written in the Book of Life.
For mothers of families, in Mary you have the perfect
example you should strive to follow. Mary was a faithful wife and an ideal and
loving mother. How often she must have regretted that her beloved spouse had to
struggle so hard to earn their meagre, daily bread. How great must have been
her grief that she could not give her beloved Child more comforts in his
infancy and youth. She had days of sorrow and anxiety, sorrow which culminated
at the foot of the cross on Calvary. But she accepted it all as God’s will for
the salvation of the world. You too have your days of anxiety and your years
perhaps of worry – worries which will not end till you draw your last breath.
But think of your model and turn to Mary for courage and for help. She can and
will get you the strength to keep going o the hard road of motherhood.
Like Mary, you have a great task to perform for God.
You have the eternal salvation of your family in your hands. Their future in
this world and in the more important next world will depend largely on how you
behave as mother of the family. Your greatest joy in heaven, after the beatific
vision will be pleasing God and that you will be surrounded by your family
which, aided by God’s grace, you did so much to bring there.
For children, your duty in the family is to love,
honour and obey your parents. And your model is none other than Jesus of
Nazareth, who though he was God, made himself subject to Joseph and Mary. He,
who was God, has set you an example which you must follow. Your obedience will
never be as perfect as his, but it can and should be as perfect as you can make
it. Be a comfort and a consolation to your parents. Remember always what they
have done for you in your infancy when you could not help yourself. Remember
what they have done and are still doing for you in order to fit you to take
your place in this life and in the next.
Show your thankfulness and appreciation by doing what
they tell you. You may not see the reason for all their restrictions and all
their commands but it is because they have your welfare at heart and because
they truly love you even. It is only later in life that you will fully
understand the true love they had for you and the great sacrifices they made
for you so that you would be worthy of them and worthy of your heavenly father
who gave you to them. Show your appreciation now while you have them.
Let us take in the scene of today’s gospel slowly. Let
us savour it and allow the gospel scene to show more clearly the gradual
process by which our families can grow into a sense of the Holy Family. Amen.