Feast of the Holy Family
The first reading is usually the key to the Gospel. We hear that Samuel is made over to the Lord –consecrated– for the whole of his life. Also Jesus was made over to God as a baby as the ultimate sign of his families love of God. So, no wonder the 12-year old Jesus makes the decision for himself to remain in the Temple as a sign of his coming of age.
In this Gospel we see in Jesus’ life an extraordinary balance in his handling the affairs of his heavenly Father, and those of his earthly family. This is at the heart of the mystery of the Holy Family. We learn that growing in the love of God, amidst the demands of family life, is possible. Jesus had grown enough in maturity to make the decision to be about his Father’s affairs for himself. So, growing in the love of God whilst considering the obligations of family life is not only possible but it is the path that Jesus sets before us.
On the one hand we are to be committed and consecrated to God whilst also keeping our family commitments. What is needed to negotiate this tension is an openness to God’s will. And that is precisely what Mary teaches us even though this is not so simple. Mary models for us what it is to be open to God’s will because even when she does not understand God’s plan fully, she is accepting of it and openly ponders it. On the other hand neither does Jesus assert his will. The Lord submitted himself to the authority of his parents.
In all this what do we learn about being a Holy Family? God’s will trumps the will of each individual, however family structure remains. Holiness is to be worked out in the family. Priority is to be given to God’s will and the life of the family at the same time, as they are one and the same. That is why what Mary teaches us today is most important: Even when we do not understand God’s plan fully, out of our love of God we are to be accepting of it and are to openly ponder the mystery of God’s will in our lives.
Have you figured out what God wills?
God wills unity within a family (and within our communities) which is brought about by our love of God. Our love of God is what brings about the unity willed by God within our families and within our communities.