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December 30, 2018: The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph [C]

First Reading Sirach 3:2-6,12-14
Second Reading Colossians 3:12-21
Gospel Luke 2:41-52

“Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

The Holy Family were still weary from their journey to Bethlehem, and from their search through Bethlehem for suitable lodging. They had been forced after Christ’s birth to flee their own country for the foreign land of Egypt, out of fear for Jesus’ life. But these experiences were only the start of many sorrows for the Holy Family.

Many years later, as we hear in today’s Gospel passage, Joseph and Mary were bewildered when they could not find their child amongst all the family and friends who had journeyed with them to Jerusalem. When they found Jesus, His words surprised them: “Did you not know that I had to be in my Father’s house?” Jesus was pointing out to Joseph and Mary that it was from His divine Father that He had come to earth. It was this Father who was His goal in life, and the goal of those He was sent to lead.

Just as Joseph and Mary recognized Jesus’ divine wisdom, so all parents and children should recognize this same truth: Jesus was born and died in order to lead us to our Heavenly Father. By and large, the first thirty years of Jesus’ life were simple ones in which his mother and foster father made ordinary sacrifices for Jesus’ well-being, day after day.

The Holy Family prayed together as a devout Jewish family, and they took the steps necessary to care for one another. When Joseph died, Mary and her son carried on alone. Yet no matter what God the Father asked of them, they prayed and acted as one according to God the Father’s Will, not their own.

When parents bring their child to the baptismal font, God adopts their child. While that mother and father do not cease to be parents following this adoption, within the ritual of Baptism they submit themselves to that same truth that Jesus had to explain to Joseph and Mary in today’s Gospel passage.

Each child ultimately comes as a gift from God the Father. It is the Father who has a plan for each child’s life on earth, and parents are responsible for helping that child to discern that vocation. Each child is meant for the life of Heaven, not the pleasures of earth. This world is our means, not our end.

Yet we all know that our world is troubled, and that our country is troubled. We don’t have to dwell on that. The cure is before us. The cure is to strengthen the family—to build up the family and to strengthen family life—which in turn builds up the life of our community, country, and world.

The home is a treasure if it is based upon our heavenly “Father’s house”: if prayer is at its center. The home is “the domestic church”, “the school of discipleship” where to live in peace, a person has to learn how to be humble and how to serve the needs of others. As you offer up your own sacrifices with Christ in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, make it your prayer that you might imitate Him in your daily life: to know the needs of others with the Wisdom of God, and to serve the needs of others with the Love of God.