31 December 2006

HOLY BUT NOT EXEMPTED


Feast of the Holy Family
Lk 2:41-52

On this last day of the year 2006, we focus our reflection on the family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. We call their family, “The Holy Family”. However, no matter how holy their family is, it is not exempted from difficulties and pain. The Gospel today proves this point.

Mary and Joseph lost Jesus in the Temple, and they are deeply distressed. One thinks that the Son is with the other as they make their journey back home to Nazareth. But both, father and mother are wrong. By now, they have been traveling for already for a day. Realizing that Jesus is neither with any of them, they search for Him among their relatives and friends but cannot find Him. What parent will not panic with his or her child missing?

When finally Mary and Joseph find Jesus in the Temple, Mary runs towards her Son, hits Him in the head, pinches His ears, slaps Him on the face, shouts curses on Him, and drags Him home in the sight of everyone in the Temple. Right? Wrong! That is not how the family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph faces a crisis-situation.

Upon seeing their Son, Mary approaches Jesus. Calmly, but still with great anxiety, Mary talks to her Son. “Son,” the mother asks, “why have You done this to us?” Mary talks to Jesus. She does not shout at Him. She dialogues with her Son. Indeed, there is no misunderstanding that cannot be ironed-out by a respectful and sincere dialogue. Mary does not give in to the sudden outburst of human emotion that is otherwise too often considered ordinary to the situation her family is in right now. As a sincerely concerned mother, Mary could have given her Son a good scolding, for what mother would not go berserk in a similar situation. But no, Mary engages her Son in a parent-child dialogue. She is sincere in understanding her Son, not in scolding Him.

While Mary is very composed, Joseph is even calmer. Typical of him, Joseph remained quiet. He says nothing but is very much present during the mother-and-son talk. Joseph does not rebuke his Son. Neither does he tell Jesus, “For what You did, Your are grounded for a month beginning today” or “From now on, your allowance will be a hundred peso less.” Joseph does not hit his Son. I suppose, just like most fathers, he stands right beside his wife, for while he leaves the talking to the mother, Joseph does not abandon his responsibility for Jesus, his foster-Son.

And the Son, Jesus; He does not raise His voice but rather respectfully answers His mother’s inquiry. With candidness that is immediately recognizable in an honest and polite response, Jesus says to Mary, “Why were you looking for Me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Moreover, now that His parents found Him, Jesus does not put a foot on the ground to say, “Now that you found Me, you, two, go home. I’ll just follow later. This is what I want to do now and so this is what I intend to continue doing. Go home, have you forgotten, I am God?” No, Jesus obediently goes home with His parents, respectfully submitting Himself to their parental authority, knowing that while doing His Heavenly Father’s will in the Temple is, of course, not bad, obeying His earthly father and Mary in their home in Nazareth is doing His Heavenly Father’s will, too, in this particular moment of His earthly life. Jesus is God’s obedient Son and so He is Mary’s and Joseph’s obedient child.

This is how it is with the Holy Family. Even in the midst of the most distressing situation, even at the heart of the most painful experience, even under the weight of the heaviest burden, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph remain loving one another. No problem, no hardship, no anxiety, no nothing can, even for the length of a sigh, diminish their love for one another that is manifested by their mutual respect. The troubles of life can never be an excuse to fight one another, to blame one another, or to accuse one another. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph is the Holy Family because they are the Loving Family.

Holiness is the perfection of charity. The more loving a family is the more holy that family is. And families that are holy are household of love at all times and in all situations. Like the family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, holy families are not exempted from the problems and difficult trials of life. People who belong to holy families are members of a household where the deepest pain and the heaviest burden can never be an excuse to love less or to love not at all.

Let us fix our eyes on the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Let us learn from their exemplary family life. Let us consecrate our family to their family. May we love as they love. May our family be holy as theirs.

But let us not forget, while we see in the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph the best example of the saying “Charity begins at home”, we likewise see in them the best example of a continuing lesson that says, “Charity, however, does not end at home”. Do we not?

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