Holy Family Sunday 27 December 2015
[__01__] We read in the Gospel, this Gospel of Holy Family Sunday, that Jesus returned – that he traveled / journeyed / went –with Joseph and Mary to Nazareth.
He returned, he traveled with them
[__02__] His obedience, his service to his parents, Mary his mother, and Joseph, his adoptive father, continued with this journey.
[__03__] One of the ways in which we can say YES, in which we can SERVE, our parents, grandparents, our families, is in our journeys, our travels
That is, not only do we serve our parents and families at a particular destination or location, but also by being with them along the way, on the journey.
[__04__] The journey – the pilgrimage was an important aspect of Jewish spiritual life as it is important in our own lives.
To receive Jesus, however, we can be enriched by a journey to Lourdes or to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark …or even a journey here for Sunday Mass.
Spiritual life means a journey. And, the Holy Eucharist – the reception of our Lord in Holy Communion – is part of this journey. Pope John Paul II wrote that, in 2004 – the Year of the Eucharist – that we can regard our reception of Christ in the Eucharist as the “high-point of a journey in progress.”
In this letter, John Paul II also reflected on the journey of the 2 travelers to Emmaus to whom Jesus appeared at first, unbeknownst. His appearance to them was, both in the walking on the road ..and in the eating at the table … food for an ongoing journey.
This helped them to recognize Christ and to say YES. (cf. Luke 24, Luke 24:29).
[* * * P A U S E * * *]
[__05__] The journey is also important to our YES, to our discipleship.
We see the example of the affirmative YES and the affirmative service and obedience in our young Messiah and Savior, Jesus of Nazareth.
He had come from Nazareth, he was supposed to be on the way back to Nazareth. Has anyone seen Jesus of Nazareth?
[__06__] As parents and as grown-ups, we would know the importance of sight and proximity, and the nearness of children, in a downtown center, at a market or mall or train station.
As children – as youths – we also know it can be dreadfully boring to stay with the group following the agenda and itinerary of the grown-ups during such encounters.
We may want to get away, to escape. We don’t want to serve the group, we want to serve ourselves.
Our little subversive plots and rebellions and strategies may start early in life.
Can we not recall conversations we had in elementary school or high school in which friends would gather to discuss what the rules really meant, to whom they applied, and how far we could go before being “caught”?
I can recall – at least in general - certain conversations like this in which we discussed the optimal level of enjoyment we could have at maximum distance from the grown ups.
In one instance, this resulted in a missed bus ..in defiance of the scheduled time for us to gather and return as a group. Some of us did not go on the next trip.
This was, however, only physical distance…
In a sense, even if we were to be physically distant from others – in a crowd – we could still be connected, in touch.
[__07__] For example, we take breaks from our family to be at work or on holiday, from our jobs to be on vacation, from our spouses …. Only to return ..hours or days later with greater ….
[ • vigor • energy • attention to detail • charity • compassion]
This is true when we speak of our relationship with God …and our relationship with others through God …
In Psalm 139, we read,
“O Lord you search me an you know me, you known when I sit and when I stand. You understand my thoughts from afar. My journeys and my rest you scrutinize.
Where can I go from your spirit, from your presence, where can I flee? If I go up to the heavens, you are there …”
St. Paul in Romans, chapter 8, affirmed that neither height nor depth could separate us from the love of Christ.
[__08__] The family bond is also sacred, God-given, created and nurtured by by God’s grace and also nurtured by our voluntary cooperation.
Do we say YES to the journey required?
[__09__] And, are we not always, in a spiritual sense, present to our family responsibility, this commitment to our family?
This is true even if we were lost in the urban center, in downtown Jerusalem or Jersey City.
We would remain a son, a daughter, a spouse, a parent.
Jesus was son to Mary and Joseph, even outside their visual proximity and without a GPS electronic tracking device in his pocket.
In a way, we could say that Jesus was obedient to his parents even his departure from the group. Did they not know that he must be about this father’s business, in his father’s house?
Jesus goes to the Temple not in spite of what they taught him but because of what they taught him.
And, his obedience to Mary and Joseph reminds us that our commitments are achieved not only by the destination we reach but by the journeys we take.
In fact, reading the Gospel now – centuries later – we can have insights that even Joseph and Mary did not possess at the time.
We know why he went to the Temple, that this foreshadows his future visits to the Temple, his future debates and a future trial with Pontius Pilate.
He had to be about his father’s business.
However, Jesus also recognizes that he has to say YES to the journey to Nazareth and to give us an example of this YES, this service and obedience to our own families, on the way. [__fin__]