Honouring the Holy Family

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

Sirach 3:2-6,12-14

God sets a father in honor over his children; a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons. Whoever honors his father atones for sins, and preserves himself from them. When he prays, he is heard; he stores up riches who reveres his mother. Whoever honors his father is gladdened by children, and, when he prays, is heard. Whoever reveres his father will live a long life; he who obeys his father brings comfort to his mother. My son, take care of your father when he is old; grieve him not as long as he lives. Even if his mind fail, be considerate of him; revile him not all the days of his life; kindness to a father will not be forgotten, firmly planted against the debt of your sins —a house raised in justice to you.

Colossians 3:12-21

Brothers and sisters: Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Wives, be subordinate to your husbands, as is proper in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and avoid any bitterness toward them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, so they may not become discouraged.

Luke 2:41-52

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.

The days leading up to and around Christmas are usually hectic with all sorts of hustle-bustle: shopping, decorating, cooking, and not to mention the most important task of making room in our hearts for Christ. Imagine: during this busy time, you take your children to the shopping mall for the obligatory photo with Santa; while waiting in line, you suddenly realize that your children have vanished. Anxiety and fear set in; you frantically look around only to find your precious ones lingering at their favourite toy store, transfixed by the promises of those wonderful objects that only your children can see. Your first emotional instinct is to scream and yell at them, “Why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety” (Lk 2:48). But then, you realize they are the most important things in your life, you collapse and quietly crush them in your loving embrace. Now, this familial embrace is picture-perfect for Christmas, surpassing any photos with Santa!

On the Feast of the Holy Family, Christians all over the world celebrate and honour the earthly family of Jesus, deemed as the model of all Christian families. When we read Luke’s account of the twelve-year-old Jesus who, for reasons unknown to his parents, Mary and Joseph, decides to ditch them and remains in Jerusalem to talk with some strangers in the temple, we cannot help but feel puzzled and worried as any parents would feel in similar situations. After three days of backtracking to Jerusalem, Mary and Joseph finally find Jesus “in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions” (Lk 2: 46) Interestingly, Luke describes them as “astonished”; not angry, anxious, or afraid. Mary simply accepts Jesus’ explanation, “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Lk 2:49). Just as the children beholding the promises held by the wonderful toys displayed in store windows, Jesus follows his heart and chooses to remain in His Father’s house. It is remarkable that Jesus, even in his youthful innocence, understands that He belongs to God, His heavenly Father, and recognizes how “blessed are those who live in [God’s] house” (Ps 84:4). He remains “obedient” to Mary and Joseph and as he matures, his wisdom increases “in years, and in favour with God and human beings” (Lk 2:51-52). Even though Mary and Joseph cannot understand this profound mystery, they embrace Jesus’ answer without question; not with human logic, but with faith. Such is a perfect snapshot of Christmas: the Holy Family choosing unconditional trust in God’s plan.

Parents may not fathom why their children do what they do or say what they say; however, Mary manages to “treasure all these things in her heart” (Lk 2:51). Perhaps Mary recognizes the immense depth and breadth of God’s love; she has “boldness before God” and understands that she, like Jesus, must obey God’s commandments and does “what pleases him” (1 Jn 3:21-22).

As we celebrate Christmas and anticipate the new year, may we remain faith-filled and trust in God even when situations defile human logic. May our hearts be open to God’s mystery and like Mary, treasure “all these things” in our hearts.

Posted: December 30, 2018

Susanna Mak

Susanna深信,信仰需要在日常生活中顯露出來,尤其是當與別人相處時,需要分擔對方所面對的困境、抉擇和挑戰。她有着很多不同的身份:女兒、姐姐、朋友、姨姨、妻子、老師、校牧、終身學習者和偶爾替《生命恩泉》寫作的作者。在每一個身份當中, 她努力為天主的愛和希望作見証。 她在多倫多擔任高中教師近二十年,擁有英語、學生讀寫能力、青年領袖活動、校牧組等經驗。 她是多倫多大學商業和英語學士,教育學士,亞省Athabasca大學綜合研究碩士,以及擁有多倫多大學Regis學院神學研究碩士證書。她對於成為《生命恩泉》寫作團隊的一份子, 深感榮幸。 Susanna has a deep conviction that faith needs to be manifested in daily life, particularly, in one’s encounters with others as well as amidst dilemmas, choices, and challenges. She strives to be a living sign of God’s love and hope as a daughter, sister, friend, aunt, wife, teacher, chaplain, life-long learner, and occasional writer for FLL. She has been a high school teacher in Toronto for almost 20 years, with experiences in English and literacy, youth leadership initiatives, the Chaplaincy Team, to mention a few. She has a B. Comm, B.A. in English, and a B. Education from University of Toronto, an M.A. in Integrated Studies from Athabasca University, and a Graduate Certificate of Theological Studies from Regis College, U of T. She is humbled by the opportunity to be part of the FLL Writing Team.

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