Grace: To know Jesus, the Son of God and my brother, so that I may love more fervently and follow him more closely.
Text for Prayer: Lk. 2: 51-52
Reflection: After Jesus’ parents find him in the temple and he returns with them to Nazareth, St. Luke tells us that Jesus was obedient to his parents, advancing in “wisdom, age, and grace before God.” We can only assume that the family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph was like any other family in the village of Nazareth. Jesus grew up like any other young man in his small town and most likely learned the trade of carpentry from his father, Joseph. They worked to support themselves and had relationships with other people in their village that were typical of the village craftsmen of their time.
We hear much talk about marriage and family these days, especially as the Church’s Extraordinary Synod on the Family approaches. Paragraph 17 of the Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, released after a previous synod on the family held in 1980, emphasized that the family is a community of persons, that serves life, participates in the development of society, and shares in the life and mission of the Church. Ideally, the family should be that first place where we learn to pray and love as Jesus did, a love that is for the sake of the other and calls us to sacrifice ourselves for the sake of others.
We can rest assured that Jesus learned to pray and learned this sense of sacrificial love from Mary and Joseph because the Gospels give us clues about his upbringing. We know that Mary and Jesus practiced their Jewish faith, for they sought to fulfill the requirements of the Law and presented Jesus in the Temple and traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover. Mary and Jesus must have been the first to teach Jesus the precepts of their faith. From the moment of Incarnation until the moment they were forced to flee to Egypt before ultimately returning to Nazareth in Galilee, Mary and Joseph made sacrifices out of love for each other and the sake of their family. Mary was a contemplative, always pondering the significance of the divine mystery into which she and her family were being drawn.
Today, let us spend time with the Holy Family in Nazareth, and imagine what their life was like, how they lived with others in the village and how they supported themselves. Let us think about the values and habits that Mary and Joseph must have instilled in the young Jesus, and how their examples might still speak to us today.
Questions: How is it that the Holy Family reflects the Church’s vision of the family, as a community of persons, that serves life, participates in the development of society, and shares in the life and mission of the Church by bringing Christ to others? What is it that they have to say to our own families today? Are our families places where we have learned and continue to learn about prayer and sacrificial love?