31 December 2006

The Holy Family - on the move!

It seems, each year, that the Feast of the Holy Family suffers some unfortunate liturgical fate. Last year, in the shortest Christmastide possible, it was relegated to a Friday and first Vespers were omitted. This year, it assumes its usual place on a Sunday but cedes its second Vespers to the Solemnity of Mary on 1 January.

Despite the liturgical aerobics that this happy Feast suffers, it offers us an opportunity to reflect on the time that Jesus spent with Mary and Joseph -- a time about which we know very little. The story of the finding in the temple, which we hear in today's Gospel, is the only documented pericope we have of the years between the Jesus' presentation in the temple and his baptism. Whatever the events that filled the silent years spent together, we can presume that the Holy Family experienced the joys and sorrows common to all families - and we can presume that they received those joys and sorrows with unparalleled grace.

As we experience the day-to-day events in our family, our parish, our community, etc., let us remember that every feeling we experience has first passed through the Most Sacred Heart of our Lord. And, although none of our families can approximate the holiness of the Holy Family, we can trust that, in some way, the feelings of frustration or helplessness that we may feel when we watch a loved one suffer -- or that we may experience ourselves -- were not entirely unknown to the Holy Family. Let us look to this first domestic Church for strength and consolation for each of our families. Let us entrust to Mary's and Joseph's care all families who are in special need of healing.

"Not that there is any comparison . . . yet still we may say that it was a trinity on earth representing in some sort the most holy Trinity -- Mary, Jesus and Joseph; Joseph, Jesus and Mary -- a trinity worth indeed to be honored and greatly esteemed."
St. Francis de Sales

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