Today’s Gospel reading on this Feast of the Holy Family gives us a glimpse into the childhood of Jesus with his Mother, Mary, and his foster father, Joseph. This is a family like no other — consisting of the very Son of God, Mary, Queen of all Saints, and St. Joseph, patron of the Universal Church. Yet as we see in today’s Scripture passage, they led a life typical of the families of their day. They experienced many of the same joys and trials that all parents and children experience even today. And so, we can look to this Family for help in our own family lives and see in them a model of Stewardship in family life.
The Gospel passage, from Luke, starts by telling us something about Jesus’ parents: “Each year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover, and when he was 12 years old, they went up according to festival custom.” In other words, this Family took seriously the Stewardship of their Time. The “Holy Couple” carefully observed the traditions and practice of their Jewish faith and brought up their Son to do the same. They worshiped as a family and with their faith community. And they did so faithfully.
We can take their example to heart by making Sunday Mass attendance a priority for our families, by making prayer with our family a priority every day, by making sure that we regularly celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation, and by observing in our family life the feasts and fasts appropriate to the liturgical calendar. When we, as families, prioritize our Time with God and worship of Him we will be imitating the Holy Family.
And when we are faced with the inevitable challenges that come with family life, we will be far better equipped to handle them, just as the Holy Family did. We read just a few verses later in our scripture passage, that Mary and Joseph faced every parent’s worst nightmare — they can’t find Jesus! What parent cannot relate to this awful moment or at least the fear of such a moment. Perhaps a little child wanders off in the store and is physically missing as young Jesus was. Or perhaps an older child, though physically present, is spiritually or emotionally “missing” through addiction or loss of faith. In these times, too, we can look to the Holy Family for guidance. Mary’s very human initial reaction upon finding Jesus — “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety” — comforts us in our own suffering as we realize that our Blessed Mother has been through difficult times in family life, too. The Holy Couple didn’t always understand their Divine Son. But they loved Him deeply and gave Him the best of themselves as parents. The Divine Son, though God, obeyed His parents, giving witness to the value of parents and family life.
On this Feast of the Holy Family, let us reclaim the beauty and importance of family life. Let’s commit to steward our families well in 2022, making time spent with God and practicing our faith the most important appointments on our family calendars. Let’s make 2022 a year in our parish like never before. Happy Feast Day, parish family!