On Sunday last, Holy Family Sunday, and the first Sunday of Christmas, the Gospel came from Luke’s Gospel, and is the only account we have of the time between Jesus’ birth and his adult ministry.
The life of the Holy Family was not without its challenges.
Every year the parents of Jesus used to go to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up for the feast as usual. When they were on their way home after the feast, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem without his parents knowing it. They assumed he was with the caravan, and it was only after a day’s journey that they went to look for him among their relations and acquaintances. When they failed to find him they went back to Jerusalem looking for him everywhere.
Three days later, they found him in the Temple, sitting among the doctors, listening to them, and asking them questions; and all those who heard him were astounded at his intelligence and his replies. They were overcome when they saw him, and his mother said to him, ‘My child, why have, you done this to us? See how worried your father and I have been, looking for you.’ ‘Why were you looking for me?’ he replied ‘Did you not know that I must be busy with my Father’s affairs?’ But they did not understand what he meant.
He then went down with them and came to Nazareth and lived under their authority. His mother stored up all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom, in stature, and in favour with God and men.
How could their life be without challenges? Jesus own life would lead to the agony of decision whether to betray himself and his mission, or flee to the hills to escape execution. Our own lives, while rarely pushed to that pitch of crisis or incident, every day contain choices. Those choices can make or mar our life and the lives of those nearest us, and – in this global economy – impact on those far away who would never dream of our existence.
At any time most of us have only a modest grasp on the circumstances of our lives and the import of decisions we make. All the more important then to seek that sort of healthy collaboration – often a very tough working together – that we see in the Gospel story.
Jesus does the will of his Father, but returns home under the authority of his parents. Mary expresses her distress and anger at Jesus, but also is ready to store these things in her heart, and – we are told elsewhere – ponder them.
Theirs is a life lived careful for truth and purpose.
New Year’s resolutions loom.
What might be a realistic one that will help you to live and work more collaboratively with God and neighbour?
A second image of the child Jesus in the Temple. Hill of Apparitions, Medjugorje. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.