The Holy Family

December 30, 2012

Today we celebrate the Holy Family of Nazareth, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.  The gospel reading from Luke gives us a rare glimpse into the early adolescent years of Jesus. The gospel opens by telling us that every year, as was their custom, Mary and Joseph took Jesus with them to Jerusalem for the Festival of Passover. In this particular year, Jesus was twelve years old.

How do you think that Jesus felt about this part of his family’s tradition? Would he have looked forward to it or would he have resented doing the same thing year after year with his parents? How do you think that Mary and Joseph felt about it? Would they have cherished the time with their family or would they have resented the cost and time that the trip took?

Do you remember how you felt about your family traditions and spending time with your parents when you were twelve? How do you feel about the traditions and spending time with your family now? Do you know how your parents feel about some of your family customs? Take a guess and then take the time to check out your guess with them.

When the festival was over, Jesus’ parents returned home, traveling with relatives and friends. Without their knowledge, Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. After an entire day of traveling, Mary and Joseph realized that Jesus was not with them, so they turned around and headed back to Jerusalem to find their son. It took them three days to find him in the temple court.

How do you think that Mary and Joseph felt on their journey back to Jerusalem? What do you think that they wanted to say to Jesus when they found him?

When Mary and Joseph found Jesus, he was sitting among the teachers in the temple, listening to them and asking them questions. As the gospel tells us, “Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.” Mary and Joseph were both astonished and upset, and Mary asks Jesus, ““Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”

Why do you think that people were so amazed at Jesus? How did he have such in depth understanding about religious matters? Why do you think that Mary and Joseph were astonished, too?

Has there ever been a time when your parents were astonished by something you knew or did that they did not know you knew or could do? Is there something you know or can do that your parents still do not know about that would astonish them about you?

Jesus’ response to his parents is not to apologize for making them search for him. Instead, he asks, “Why were you searching for me? Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” We are told that Jesus’ parents did not understand what he was saying to them.

Why do you think that Jesus stayed behind in the temple? Do you think that Jesus did the right thing by staying behind in the temple without telling his parents? Why or why not?

Why do you think that Mary and Joseph had trouble understanding what Jesus was saying to them? How do you think they felt hearing him call the temple his Father’s house?

Has there ever been a time when you did something you felt you needed to do even though your parents did not understand what you were doing?

This story of a challenging time in the life of the Holy Family ends on a happy note. We are told that Jesus went back home with Mary and Joseph, was obedient to them, and “grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”

What do you think helped to hold the Holy Family together? How do you react to the idea that the Holy Family had its share of problems, just like the families we all know?

What are the problems that you usually plague your family? What helps to hold your family together in the challenging times?

This coming week we enter into a new year, and many of us will make resolutions for becoming better, healthier, happier, kinder people. Maybe you could consider a family-oriented resolution, like spending just a bit more time together, because in the end one of the things that keeps a family together is simply being together.

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