Holy Family Sunday December 30, 2012
[__01] This Sunday is the feast of the Holy Family, the Sunday celebrated in the octave or 8 days after Christmas.
In the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we see the model of sacrifice for our own homes and families.
And, even, in a model in their search, their search for the 12-year old Jesus who has gone missing.
[__02] First, he is discovered missing in the caravan on the journey home from Jerusalem to Nazareth. Secondly, Jesus remains separated from his parents. In total, they search for 3 days.
Where would a 12-year-old boy most likely have gone on his own? Possibly, not to the Temple, but that is where they find him.
Mary and Joseph find him there. And, Jesus himself wonders why have been checking in so many other locations first.
Jesus himself asks, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49)
[__03] We might also note that the search and rescue effort, in a sense, does not succeed 100%.
Jesus’ answer about where he has been and why he as gone there is not satisfactory.
Joseph and Mary don’t completely understand what Jesus is telling them when, Jesus states his motive.
The motive – or motivation is stated this way:
“Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49)
The motive is also stated in other biblical reflections similarly:
“How is it that you sought me? did you not know, that I must be about my father's business?” (Luke 2:49 – Douay-Rheims)
[__04] We see that the unity of this ideal, holy family is temporarily disrupted because Jesus has gone out on his own.
This disappearance – and discovery -- at the Temple is a prophecy of the future life of our Lord and Savior. About twenty years or so after this incident, Jesus is again questioned at the Temple.
As an adult, Jesus is the model student being questioned. And, he has answers for the Temple scholars.
And at the end of the day – Good Friday – Jesus is going home. But, he is not going home with Mary and Joseph.
As we read in the Gospel of John, reading about Jesus’ description of his Passion and Death and Resurrection:
“In my Father’s house, there are many dwelling places, otherwise, how could I have told you that I was going to prepare a place for you? I am indeed going to prepare a place for you, and then I shall come back to take you with me, that where I am you also may be.” (John 14:2-3)
[__05] Jesus goes into the Temple so that he might bring us into the Father’s house also.
This is Jesus’ motivation which is better understood later. This is the motive for his disappearance from the caravan.
It would have been easier, perhaps, if Jesus had not confessed a motive – right up front.
The motive is hard to understand.
[__06] Perhaps, he should have just given an alibi, such as any of us would give:
- I became lost, separated from the group
- I was led astray by the juniors and seniors – the older youths.
- I lost track of time – what’s 3 days for a 12 year old?
Mary and Joseph would take him, probably forget the whole thing.
The alibi enables us to forget, ignore, deny.
The alibi – in a legal case – enables the police [or parents] to rule out suspects or possibilities.
But, a motive [motivation] is different.
A motive is more challenging.
A motive is different for the child who says what he or she wants to do, one day – “when I grow up.”
It is the calling of mothers and fathers to help children discover their dreams and hope for the future.
[__07] Now, currently, at the Temple – 12 years old – Jesus is the model young honor-student.
He is saying “please” and “thank you” with the Temple scholars. He is raising his hand. He has the correct answers. He is listening to what others say. He waits for others to finish their sentences.
And, they are astonished at his answers.
What we read in today’s Gospel, Luke chapter 2:
“All who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers.” (Luke 2:__)
Jesus would be willing to help others students, falling behind in class.
[__08] But, now, with the reunion of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, it is time to go home.
It is not for him to remain in the Temple.
And, we read that Jesus goes home and is obedient to his mother and father, to Mary and Joseph.
Doing so, Mary and Joseph are neither controlling him nor acquitting him of responsibility.
They are simply saying that the gifts you have now are meant to be shared and used in the home, in our home, our family.
- Saying please and thank you
- Loving each other
- Sacrificing for each other.
We don’t simply show/use our intelligence outside the home – in school. Rather, we are called to love with all of our heart, mind and strength –for good - at home as well.
[__09] And, this the sacrifice and love is manifest in the gift of Jesus’ life to his disciples, to you and me.
Jesus also loves them – and us -- with all of his mind and heart and strength, teaching them as well.
At the Temple – in the father’s business – Jesus becomes the new Passover lamb, the Holy Eucharist. In the crucifixion, in his death and resurrection.
This is motive; this is his body; this is his blood.
And, in this, the search is complete. [__fin___]