Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.
This feast takes place on the Sunday immediately following Christmas, falling within the season of Christmas fittingly to continue to call our attention to the profound reality of God becoming man. On this feast, in particular, we are reminded of the humanity of Jesus as the son of Mary and Joseph.
“The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him.” This shows that they had no hindsight; they thought of themselves in every way as normal people. This is their connection with us. Had they thought themselves special from birth, they would be as distant from us as a royal family. But we see them following the ordinary custom of presenting the child in the Temple, and their offering is the offering of the poor.
It is our family that makes and keeps us human. We were welded into it before we were born; it is our anchor in human history. Scholars believe that the gospel accounts (in Matthew and Luke) of Jesus’ childhood were not in the original form of the gospels but were added on at an early stage because they were needed to keep the story of Jesus anchored in this life.
In the United States, we tend to think of the family as the ‘nuclear family’: father, mother, and child. Then we project this onto the family of Jesus. But an Eastern family and south of the border, even to this day, comprises a hundred people or more (this is how Jesus managed to get lost in the Temple). In today’s first reading, Abram complained to God about having no children. Then “God brought him outside and said, ‘Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them…. So, shall your descendants be.’” Nothing about a nuclear family.
Jesus too was part of an extended family. But that physical family was nothing compared to the spiritual family of disciples through the ages and through the whole world. We all have our part in extending it. Every time we extend a hand to a neighbor or a stranger we are extending that great family. With legitimate hindsight, we can see His spiritual family continuing to extend till it includes the whole world. Have a blessed Holy Family day.
Fr. Oscar Mendez, OFM
Pastor, Mission San Luis Rey Parish
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