Today, the Gospel passage from St. Luke tells the story of a “teen” Jesus found by his parents in the temple. The words of discovery are: When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us?”
I don’t get it. This all could have been avoided if the loving Heavenly Father would have just had the cell phone invented a couple of thousand years earlier! Oh, well…
But isn’t that it? Isn’t that exactly what we often accuse God of: not making out heart-wrenching situations easily avoidable if not impossible? Yet later on, St. Paul, in his Letter to the Romans (8:32), will refer to God as “he who did not spare his own son, but gave him up for us all.” So we never get to understand the complete why of God’s allowing evil to happen, but we do know that threats and violence were indeed part of “the way, the truth, and the life” of his own son.
As we celebrate the Feast of The Holy Family this year, I find myself thinking of St. Joseph, who tends to get very little press as the Christmas story is told. What comes to mind about him is that he is described as “a holy and righteous man.” He was holy because he lived his life as God had ordered it and thus lived his life as a vocation. He was righteous (not to be confused with the dysfunction of being “self righteous”) by living his relationships as also holy, filled with meaning, and God-given; he was also righteous in that all around him were treated with the dignity of creation in God’s own image and likeness. Do we really get how important this kind of personal righteousness is in our own lives? Righteousness that smacks of having an inflated ego is totally misconstrued and actually deprives others of the dignity due them. God’s righteousness in us is—well—HOLY.
We pray this Sunday for every family (no matter its makeup), that it receive the grace of righteousness that comes from The Righteous One born to us this Christmas. The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph was completely and totally dependant on God, our Heavenly Father, for its identity and mission on this earth. They began their lives with mutual love and trust, which protected them against the murderous threats of the day. They welcomed kindly and humbly the help of others when they were homelessness. They practiced with faith and devotion their religion and they shared that faith with eagerness. In other words, in all things, they were given gifts and they placed those gifts in God’s mission to redeem and save. And this is what we pray for every family this Feast of The Holy Family 2012.