The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
When we look at the Holy Family as a model for our families, I think most. if not all, of us would just give up. After all, Mary was free of original sin from her conception and was previously held to be free of personal sin; Jesus was the Son of God; and Joseph, well he was considered a righteous man, living in harmony with the 10 Commandments and the rest of Jewish Law.
But today’s Gospel show us some chinks in that thinking. Joseph and Mary left for home after fulfilling the Passover pilgrimage to Jerusalem, assuming that Jesus was somewhere among their relatives and neighbors. After traveling for day and not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem, searched for three days, meaning they didn’t know where he was for 5 days. Imagine their growing anxiety and eventually panic. Where was he? Was he kidnapped and sold into slavery? Was he dead, killed by some wild animal or was he injured?
No wonder his mother Mary asked why and told him of her and his father’s great anxiety. What tone of voice did Mary use? I doubt it was a calm interchange. Sure there was relief but also there must have been an undertone of anger and disappointment that Jesus put them through such anxiety. And after Jesus’ answer, not understanding their not understanding, maybe Joseph spoke up in a reply that was not recorded. I can imagine Joseph saying, “Jesus, a word: Don’t go talking to your mother that way!” following the advice found in the Book of Proverbs 13:24: “one who loves the child disciplines him.”
The Holy Family in this passage reveals themselves to be a bit dysfunctional: Mary and Joseph assuming Jesus was somewhere in the caravan; not finding him, their hearts filled with dread; relief, anger, and disappointment when he was found; a flip answer by a preteen boy who had not told his parents that he was going to stay in Jerusalem; maybe silence after they made their way home; then reflection on Mary’s part as Jesus learned obedience.
Every family is dysfunctional. The difference is how much and its effects on its members.
And, the Church family is dysfunctional as well. It’s part of the human condition. There will always be disagreements, hurt feelings, thoughtlessness, and misunderstandings. As in any family, we must listen respectfully to each other, have patience with each other, pray for an understanding mind and heart, and forgive one another.
We are on a journey, growing in wisdom and holiness, as the family of God.