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Reflection: 30th December 2018

A Reflection for the Feast of the Holy Family

LK 2:41-52 ( http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/123018.cfm)

As a people loved and chosen by God, we celebrate this feast in communion with all our families. We are invited to imitate the virtues of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, models of love and mutual care and obedient to the Divine will.

Certainly, we cannot disagree with the above statement.

We have celebrated Christmas but we can ask if we are not inclined to romanticize Christmas. Christ was born in a stable, in very poor conditions. Mary and Joseph had very little resources to receive the newly-born infant!

The family, for various reasons has been the focus of attention for the last few years and rightly so. Pope Francis has frequently spoken about the family. Joseph and Mary assumed the task of raising a family, a task that was not easy and which is not an easy one for the many couples who today commit themselves to this task.

Nazareth was off the beaten track, very poor and backwards.  Joseph probably worked as a day labourer in construction.  Conditions for the family were not good, a struggle to put food on the table every day.

Before Jesus was born Joseph and Mary travelled to Jerusalem. Mary was pregnant, and the journey was not easy. Lately, I found two images of Joseph and Mary travelling.  The first one depicts the journey to Jerusalem. Mary, obviously pregnant, seems very tranquil mounted on the donkey.  Joseph, looking preoccupied, leads the donkey.  In the other picture they are fleeing Herod and going into exile in Egypt.  Here there are no signs of tranquility!  Even the donkey seems to transmit urgency as he stretches forward. Everyone is tense and in a hurry it seems.

Today let us remember the many families who are in the same conditions - in Syria, Mexico or elsewhere - and fleeing. They are migrants preoccupied with the future of their families.

In today’s Gospel we encounter Mary and Joseph in the Temple.  They begin the journey home and suddenly realize that Jesus is missing.  He is lost!  They rush back to Jerusalem.  Imagine the suffering of any family which has lost a child.  That is also the suffering of Mary.  Mary says,  “Look, I and your father, preoccupied, have been searching for you!  Why have you done this to us?” 

Yes, twelve-year-olds can cause problems!


John Horan C.S.Sp. – From Co. Tipperary, Fr. John spent some time as a seminarian in Trinidad and years later would study in New York’s Fordham University.  He is one of several Irish Spiritans serving in Brazil to which he was first appointed in the mid-1960s.