FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY – 26TH DECEMBER 2021
I remember my mum telling me about one of the scariest moments of her life. Many, many years ago, while she was pregnant with me, she went on an overseas trip with dad and my two older siblings. They went inside a huge multi-level shopping mall and, by some confusion, my mum lost my sister among the crowds. You can imagine her panic – she was close to having a heart attack at the thought of her precious 3-year-old lost in a foreign country, unable to even speak the language! Thankfully mum was able to somehow communicate with the security personnel, who was then able to locate my sister and ended mum’s greatest nightmare (I think my sister was quite unaffected and was just happily exploring this new world around her).
I often thought back to this incident whenever I read the gospel story of Jesus being lost and found in the temple. My sister was ‘only’ lost for less than 30 minutes… I can’t phantom how terrified Mary and Joseph must have felt, losing Jesus for 3 whole DAYS! Granted, twelve-year-olds are much older and more independent than three-year-olds. Still… it must’ve been terrifying for Mary and Joseph. Here, we see a very human side of Mary and Joseph – two parents who, like any other parents, are not perfect and can make mistakes, are trying to work it out as they go along. They didn’t know where Jesus was and ‘assumed’ he was with the caravan – such is a common mistake we all make. They didn’t know how to deal with Jesus’ growing up – I believe children in Jewish culture are considered adults by the age of 12, so perhaps Jesus simply thought he was old enough now and was simply exercising his independence by choosing to stay behind… but Mary and Joseph struggled to understand this (most parents with teenagers could perhaps empathise!)
Today we celebrate the feast of this Holy Family. It’s easy for us to think of Mary, Joseph and Jesus as being so ‘holy’ in the sense that they are not like us normal people, that they are a ‘super-family’, perfect in every way. We often forget that they, too, go through the everyday challenges of family life, where there are misunderstanding and disagreements, where mistakes are made, where there are confusions and indecisions, where compromises need to be made, and plenty of forgiveness asked for and given out.
More than simply adoring them, perhaps we can learn little by little from Mary, Joseph and Jesus how to also be ‘holy’ in our daily lives. Mistakes, accidents and misfortunes will happen – this is part of reality. Let us ask Mary and Joseph to teach us how to live these moments with love, compassion, forgiveness and trust!Wishing you all a blessed week! Sr. Devy