Friday Focus: All In The Family
every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went
up as usual for the festival. When the
festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in
Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it.
Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day's
journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends.
When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After
three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening
to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding
and his answers. When his parents saw
him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, "Child, why have you
treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in
great anxiety." He said to them,
"Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my
Father's house?" But they did not understand what he said to them. Then he
went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother
treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in
years, and in divine and human favor. Luke 2:41-52
It is an article of our Christian faith that Jesus is,
was and will always be God, the Second Person of the Trinity. It is a further
article of faith that Jesus was all man and all God right from the moment of
his conception. What this week’s gospel tells us is that the divine nature of
Jesus, while ever present, emerged only as he
grew in age and wisdom. In other
words, it took time for Jesus to emerge as the Christ. And that time was spent
in the world’s finest finishing school … a loving, nurturing family.
As we saw in last Sunday’s gospel, the cornerstone
of this family was Mary, the youngster who courageously responded to sudden,
awesome responsibility. In the first chapter of Matthew, Joseph is simply
described as: a good man…modest praise for a modest man, God’s
picked protector and provider into whose care the Messiah was entrusted. And as
we learn in this week’s gospel, Jesus was a child prodigy who astounded the
temple elders with his wisdom. As many parents can attest, a prodigy in the
family can be a mixed blessing at best. There is the pride of accomplishment
and the promise of great potential. But then there is the fatigue of coping with
elevated energy levels and constant curiosity. And lurking somewhere is the
fear that all this creative power might somehow prove destructive.
While scriptural accounts of Christ’s early family
life are limited to this brief passage, it speaks volumes of his formation and
of his family. It tells us of a boy beginning to discover who he is and why he
is here. He honors Mary and Joseph, but he knows he must be about his Father’s
business. The gospel records that Mary kept all of this in her heart; an understatement
if ever there was one. But, tellingly, there is no account of Joseph’s
reaction. From the moment he had learned that his betrothed was with child,
Joseph did as the angel of the Lord bid him to do. And from the birth in the stable, through the flight into Egypt,
to the heartache of a lost child in the big city, Joseph was constant and
dutiful. There is no record of griping or whining, only the silence of obedient
service. Remember: this wasn’t a job Joseph had saught. He was drafted. Through
an angel, the Lord told him what to do. Joseph did it and continued to do it,
throughout a lifetime of dedicated, demanding service that can only be imagined.
As Joseph and Mary could attest, and as we’ve all
seen over and over, family life is not an endless episode of Ozzie and Harriet.
There is miscommunication and non-communication. There is disappointment and
anger. There are forces loose that can tear a family apart a hundred times
over. The unspoken lesson of this gospel is the power of forgiveness. Without
grand gestures or ringing oratory, this is a manifestation of the glue that
holds families together. In shock and surprise, we forgive. In disappointment
and frustration, we forgive. In lingering, nagging resentment, we forgive. Even
in pain and fury, we forgive.
How appropriate that as Mary’s precocious child
takes these early steps to becoming the Christ, we have a timeless example of
family forbearance and forgiveness. Don’t let this gospel go to waste. Give yourself
the gift of forgiveness. Share it with your family and those who should be your
brothers and sisters in Christ. For giver and receiver, it is the ultimate
win/win gift. The price is right. Delivery is free. Satisfaction is guaranteed.
And the more you use the gift of forgiveness, the fresher, brighter and better
it gets. Our Operator is always standing by. Call him today.