Genesis 15: 1-6; 21: 1-3 -Hebrews: 8: 11-12, 17-19 – Luke 2: 22, 39-40-40
It is the tradition of the Church that on the Sunday following Christmas we hold before us the family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph – the Holy Family. They are central to the Christmas story. At the same time, in the celebration of Christmas, family events and gatherings are so much an important par
But this year, as we know so well, is different. This is the case not only during these days, but it has been so for months. The stay-at-home directives as well as the efforts to reduce contact whether at schools, senior facilities, hospitals and the like, families, in whatever form they may happen to take, have had to live concentrated lives or have stayed apart entirely. Perhaps this situation has brought about much greater “family time.” Then, again, it may also have led to greater stress. Whatever be the case, family life has taken on greater prominence during these days and, thus the image of the Holy Family put before us may have even more meaning. This suggests, I believe, prayer and reflection on what these months may have taught us about what is experienced and what is missed in this situation.
The message of God to us found in the Scripture passages we have heard offer two particular considerations: faith and trust in Go as well as the growth in wisdom and favor that is totted in the family environment of whatever form.
The promise that was made to Abraham was that he would be the father of many nations, that he would have innumerable descendants. The natural circumstances of age and the child- bearing ability of his wife appeared to cause this to be a problem. Faith and trust in God led Abraham and Sarah through these difficulties so that the promise could be fulfilled. Certainly this can be a lesson for us at this time. Being apart, for example, while difficult, may well have reinforced the value and enjoyment of being together. The greater time together may have provided opportunities that have been overlooked when there had been a preoccupation with multiple activities. Like Abraham of old, developing faith and trust in God and one another can provide a way o overcoming any number of challenges and difficulties.
St. Luke’s inclusion of the comment on the early years in the life of Jesus suggests that it was the environment of the family home, the experience with Mary and Joseph and the extended family, led to a positive growth in Jesus of the wise appreciation of others and the significance of God’s presence and factor in his home life.
In a way, I feel somewhat inadequate in speaking of family life with my own siblings either deceased or scattered around the country. Each of us, however, are part of a family. Each of us, as well, have been affected in some way during these past months We can take these moments when emphasis is focused on the Holy Family to recognize that true strength comes to us in showing the wisdom and favor of faith and trust in a good and gracious God.