Thursday, 27 December 2012

Holy Family

Sunday GospelLuke 2:41-52 

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.

There is something very reassuring about Luke's Holy Family. For him, the  important elements were both 'holy' and 'family'. What made Jesus the man he grew to be was not an environment of closeted privilege but the sacramental  and mundane ordinariness of peasant life. The lineage back to David that includes so many 'black sheep' that few would admit to it; the young woman -  perhaps a second wife; a home in the Galilee surrounded by extended family; a life of habit and tradition - the presentation in the Temple; the pilgrimage to Jerusalem. 

But as the saying goes; everyone is ordinary until you get to know them.     

Thanks to the time Luke spent with Mary, we have these snapshot anecdotes that may have suggested something more; at least in hindsight. 

The meeting between the miraculous mothers- Elizabeth and Mary- bringing affirmation of what must have seemed like a dream; the Presentation in the Temple where the wisdom of elders recognised something in the child's eyes. And then this memory of 'the first time we thought we had lost him and maybe when we realised he was not ours at all'. Moments any mother would hold in her heart and that time would lend meaning to.

How many of us have shared similar stories over the past few days in friends and family get-togethers? Cutting through any illusions of superiority with stories of fears and adventures; dares and disasters - that all feed into the people that we become - the ones most likely to...  the ones who never did... and the ones you couldn't stop.

Even at twelve, Jesus knew he was part of something bigger than his mother and father; even bigger than the caravan of relatives, friends and neighbours. That knowledge widened his world; made him into someone more than a boy from the Galilee. The danger of a precocious child; Jesus could well have found a place in the Temple; pledged as Samuel had been. And how would his wisdom have grown then? Where would be his compassion; his friendship with the tax-collector and the fisherman; his appreciation of the shepherd and the farmer?

Mary and Joseph brought Jesus home; did they wonder if it was for the best, or did they understood the need for him to be grounded in his people; in his community? 

In Nazareth, Jesus learns the wisdom of what is important - the intimacy; patience; compassion and relationship of belonging to other people and other people belonging to him. He learns how Love is lived.



Lynda said...

Word, I appreciate your insight about Jesus not staying in the Temple but returning home to learn what he would need for his ministry. That insight has a broader application for all of us in that too often we remain in the comfortable environment of our church community rather than living in the broader community where God is calling us. There is so much for us to learn out in the real world. Thanks very much.

Word in the Hand said...

I suppose the journey between the two as well Lynda? Thank you and blessings