A great threat to family
Updated: Mar 15
Each year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom. After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Thinking that he was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances, but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man.
A great threat to the family
Today, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. We contemplate the Holy Family at Bethlehem, with the newborn Baby Jesus, even as the Gospel has us fast forward 12 years to the scene of the Child Jesus lost and found in the Temple. Different scenes come to mind. We can think of the Holy Family as they flee to Egypt to escape the wrath of King Herod. We can look at them in Nazareth, with Jesus slowly taking on more responsibility in his foster father’s carpentry shop. Regardless of the scene, we think of these people intimately united. This is the source of the tension in today’s Gospel, when Jesus is separated because he stays behind discussing Sacred Scripture with the Teachers of the Law in the Temple.
A family is an excellent demonstration of the value of unity. We all want to form part of something greater than ourselves. It often seems that the world is trying to tear families apart. One of the greatest risks to unity is the reality of divorce. Divorce tears families apart. Everybody hurts after a divorce. There is a feeling of failure or regret. The children feel a great sense of loss. Division and hurt take the place of unity and love at the center of the family unit.
The child Jesus would reject divorce as an adult, after advancing in wisdom and age and favor. In Mt. 5:32, we hear him say: “whoever divorces his wife causes her to commit adultery.” He questions an institution that was widely accepted, though frowned upon, in his day.
On this day that we celebrate the Holy Family, we can pray for all families and especially for Christian marriages. It is difficult to commit to a lifelong loving relationship. Nevertheless, this is at the heart of the meaning of love, which gives meaning to human existence. Let us pray for marriage and family, so that all children may grow up in loving homes and be introduced to the love of God.
Pope Francis just sent out a letter to married couples for the Amoris Laetitia Family year 2021-2022. I invite all married couples and all those preparing themselves for marriage to read it carefully. God bless all families.