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Dec 26. Holy Family – Joseph and Mary have been through it all!

December 22, 2010

Download: Feast of the Holy Family

Reflection Question: Jesus was born in a violent world. King Herod was both paranoid and ruthless. Scared of another leader rising to take his thrown he killed his two sons and his wife out of fear of this happening. He now kills every newborn child. Mary’s Magnificat joy was also a fearful teenage pregnancy with shame, community concern and gossip. A long and uncomfortable pregnant journey on a donkey. An unwelcomed arrival for her birth in Bethlehem. No clean and sterile hospital birth. Joseph’s shame at not being able to provide for comfort and the hospitality of his Bethlehem family at his wife’s first birth.  Concerns and thoughts still arrive to haunt his sleep. Who is the Father? Will we be safe? Can I find work?

Are Joseph’s nights filled with dreams, or are they nightmares? Obedient Joseph again says Yes to God after his dream prayers – fleeing with other refugees across unwelcome borders. Now a refugee family. Immigration officials. Suspicious looks. Foreign languages. Concerns again for work. Feeding the family. His tools left behind in a hurry. Haunting stories of slaughtered children. Joseph knows it all.

Mary experiencing all the newborn baby questions and struggles without support. Heat and cold, uncomfortable donkey travelling. Mary and child alone and frightened while husband and Dad searches for work. Food. Safe haven. Political dictators. At the whim of feared and ruthless rulers. Peoples afraid to return home. Mary knows it all.

The Holy Family are not ‘holy’ because they had a perfect and comfortable life. God shocks us with the risk and immersion into our history, its violence and unpredictable twists. Joseph and Mary are poor. Face immense challenges probably well beyond any normal family endure. There are no fine clothes, prestigious schools, expensive cars. Instead the courageous and daily continued Yes which they both said to God and the angel in prayer those many months ago.

We see in Jesus the influence of Mary and Joseph and the Holy Spirit. His knowledge of the scriptures, promises pondered over difficult nights. His love and concern for the poor, forged through suffering, pain and deep family struggle. His obedience to the Father, modeled endlessly by Joseph and Mary.

  • What image do you have of the ‘Holy Family’? What new appreciation do you have of the Holy Family after considering some of the social and political data behind the scenes of Gospel stories of Christmas and the infancy of Jesus?
  • What challenge do you hear to create and live in imitation of the Holy Family?

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