Word Of God

Sunday 30th December 2012

Reflection on the Gospel-Feast of the Holy Family Year C
Veronica M. Lawson RSM

(Luke 2:41-52)

The time between Christmas and New Year is often family time, a good time to think about what family means. For many, it is a challenge to juggle the various family commitments. We do our best, and trust that everyone will understand the difficult choices that sometimes have to be made. The readings invite us to focus on family relationships. At a very basic level, we are all 'children of God' (1 John 3:1), invited to remember the love that God has 'lavished on us'.

In the first reading, we find Hannah, the mother of the future prophet Samuel, recognising God's claim and dedicating her child to God. In the Gospel reading, Luke presents the young Jesus coming with his parents from Nazareth to Jerusalem 'as usual' for the great feast of Passover. He is twelve years of age, capable in that culture of making quite serious decisions for himself. He does just that, much to the consternation of his parents, who only become aware 'after a day's journey' that he has remained in Jerusalem and not joined the extended family group or synodia for the return journey to Nazareth. Mary and Joseph are not well pleased. They express their concern but fail to understand his response: he is primarily God's child and must follow God's call first and foremost. This does not preclude obedience to his parents, but it does foreshadow the pain involved in parenting this young man whose mission will take him along paths they would never have chosen for him. As Luke's story unfolds, Joseph fades from the picture. Mary lives as we are all called to live, 'storing all these things in her heart'.

Sometimes God's call to children is in tension with parents' wishes or hopes. Children are first of all 'children of God'. Much as we might want to, we cannot hold on to them. We try to understand their choices, we do everything we can to nurture their uniqueness, and we pray that they too will grow in wisdom and stature and in favour with God as responsible members of the whole Earth community.

As I type this reflection, I am conscious of the families in the Philippines affected so tragically by Typhoon Bopha, including some 2.3 million children. Twenty-eight thousand homes have been destroyed or damaged and two hundred thousand people are still in emergency centres. We might want to consider our responsibility to these families and seek ways to respond in the first instance to their plight and in the long term to the changes that such cataclysmic events might ask of us.