Already the Hot X Buns are in the stores. No time to ponder the gift of Christmas and the many faceted sorts of family gatherings. Those important get-togethers have moments of joy…the prodigal daughter turns up…of sadness, the beloved sister, mother, grandmother goes peacefully to God. The car is stolen. The special gift did not arrive. These and many other happenings around the day do not destroy the significance of the occasion. It’s the relationships that are renewed, reborn, established that really make the home and the family. That is the place for treasured memories to be wheeled out, hidden stories to be revealed, lovingly the births and deaths to be highlighted and the pains and bouts of ill health to be consoled. All this in a changing world with changing ideas about family and the various roles within the many new forms of family.
From Mary and Joseph we can glean some element of their family. They were small. They were pious, the yearly pilgrimage on the feast of Passover in spring. Did they also go up on the other great Jewish feasts of Booths and Pentecost?
Mary and Joseph suffered the pain of the missing child. What parent has not had such similar stress? Then to encounter their son debating the pros and cons with the doctors of the Law, and in the Temple! Nothing, not even memories of the various angel visitations, quite prepared them for this! And the young man, Jesus, now twelve in that society, how did he handle the different pull of duty and piety towards his parents and the emerging recognition of his higher calling to his Father? Many families find this challenge when faced with daughters and sons debating their vocation to religious life or priesthood.
It was a different time and perhaps my kitchen ruled then, but Jesus went down learned the trade, pondered his vocation and lived under their authority, and as far as we know did not get drafted into service with King Herod or the Roman authorities. And the Scripture reminds us that “Jesus increased in wisdom, in stature, and in favour with God and people.”
I guess that is the dream for all families.
A blessing on your home and family today and may it remain with you in the coming year.