On the Road Together for December 30
Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year C
by Tracy Rodenborn, Director of RCIA
Heartfelt Reflections on Family
The first Sunday after Christmas we always commemorate the Feast of the Holy Family. This year, we have the only Biblical passage that refers to Jesus’ youth. Our Gospel from Luke tells the story of Jesus at age 12, going to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover and staying behind impressing the elders in the Temple while his parents are frantically trying to find him. While this is a story that shows Jesus exhibiting impressive scholarly and theological skills at a young age, it is also a story about parenting and Mary and Joseph’s frantic search for their son. Our first reading is also a story about parenting, as Hannah and Elkanah decide some practical details about how they are going to honor both custom and the special role Samuel has as a nazirite.
So often, when we think of the holy family, Mary, Joseph and Jesus, we might imagine a saccharine view of their peaceful and, well, easy life together as a family. Luke’s Gospel passage and some others show a true human family with some of the same misunderstandings and struggles that all our families face. We cannot ignore the sheer terror of the holy couple, Mary and Joseph, who have lost their son in our Gospel passage, and we can only imagine the pain of separation Hannah and Elkanah felt as they dedicated their son to be a perpetual nazirite at a young age. Our reflections this weekend on the Holy Family lead us to ponder ever more deeply Jesus’ true humanity and the familiar feelings of angst and worry every parent feels for their child.
My favorite line in our Gospel today is how Luke tells us that “his mother kept all these things in her heart” (Luke 2:51) when he discusses how Jesus grows up in obedience and wisdom. In another place, earlier in Luke chapter 2 after the shepherds have come to adore Jesus, it says that Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart (Luke 2:19). Since our readings this weekend are so much about parenting, I think this is the image we are left with. Whether we are parents ourselves with so many hopes and worries for our own children, or if we reflect on our own parents and think about their concern and love for us, we can all sit with Mary and ponder in our hearts those we love. The image of Mary we have from the Gospel of Luke is a woman, full of grace, reflecting deeply on the events that are presently taking place in the life of her family. We, too, can join with her and let go of our past hurts and disappointments and for some time, forget about our worries for the future and take heart in the present and in those blessed moments in the life of our families.
But when time itself is meaningful and each moment contains something valuable of its own, the joyful anticipation of something greater, something still to come, makes even more precious that which we already experience.
The Blessing of Christmas
, by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
Readings for December 30:
on Friday, December 28, 2018 at 8:00AM