The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph
 A Homily, Cycle C  2012-2013
by Rev. Luke Dundon

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First Reading - 1 Samuel 1:20-22, 24-28
Responsorial Psalm - 84:2-3, 5-6, 9-10
Second Reading - 1 John 3:1-2, 21-24
Gospel - Luke 2:41-52

Luke writes to explain that
Christ came to save everyone.

Each year Jesus' parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom.  After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it.  Thinking that he was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances, but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him.  After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers.  When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, "Son, why have you done this to us?  Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety."  And he said to them, "Why were you looking 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.  He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart.  And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man.

You know that age when, fighting with siblings is a regular occurrence?  That lovely time of life when talking back to mom and dad is unfortunately common . . . so when *I* was at that age, and I was home for Christmas vacation, weíd eventually attend the Mass celebrating the Holy Family (today), Iíd listen to the readings, and Iíd think to myself . . . ďOh, Lord, you have a sense of humor.Ē  Honor and revere your father . . . and I had just finished arguing with my own father about taking out the trash!!  Fathers, do not provoke your children, so they may not become discouraged . . . oh yeah, score one for us kids! . . . And so it goes in the amazing, thrilling, confusing, maddening, mysterious, wondrous, miraculous reality known as family.  I know it, you know it, we know it, so many people throughout history have known it, so many families . . . including the Holy Family themselves.

Mary and Joseph and the young child Jesus are no strangers to this reality.  Itís been an adventure for them since Day 1.  The story begins with the husband receiving news that his wife is already EXPECTING . . . and so he considers divorcing her, until an angel intervenes.  The wife and mother receives news that she would conceive without a husband present . . . and so she gives birth to a wonder-child indeed . . . and then that child wanders off completely, into the bustling districts of Jerusalem.  Frantic parent search and search and search, literally for three DAYS . . . still no sign of Jesus.  Finally they find Him, finally they take hold of their precious child, and finally they can give Him a little scolding . . . ďSon, where have you been?!Ē  His response doesnít help much - - ďDidnít you know that I need to be in my Fatherís house?Ē and so Mary and Joseph failed to comprehend their sonís explanation, and so the mystery of FAMILY continues.  In fact, some say itís TOO mysterious . . . TOO untenable . . . TOO much effort for what itís worth . . . so society is trying to re-define what family IS . . . or what itís FOR . . . or what it can be USED for . . .

I know it, you know it, we know it, family really DOES take a lot of effort.  It really DOES leave a lot unexplained.  It really DOES take a lot of patience and trust and FAITH . . . so why do families continue to march on?  Why do we bother to put up with the effort and patience and trust that is required?  I think we bother for the same reason that, even though I might be annoyed with Dad and Dad might be a little upset with me . . . I love him.  And Iím one of his unrepeatable sons.  And IN those relationships, through the precious care of my Mom and Dad, I have found meaning in my life, I have found my own identity, I have found the God who loves me.

And so we see how our Lord and God decided to come to this earth.  He came, not on a throne surrounded by a legion of Angles, but in the humble and uncertain and mysterious context known as FAMILY.  God Himself has entered into His own beautiful creation, through community, through FAMILY.  For who was God Himself nurtured by?  A mother named Mary.  Who taught God Himself to be a man?  A father named Joseph.  Who taught him to pray, who taught him to be a faithful child of God, who taught him to discover His Heavenly Father?  Parents.  Family.  In the humblest, most uncertain and unpredictable and adventurous and lively and SACRED environment . . . known as FAMILY.  Today, I want to thank God for the continuing witness that every Mom and Dad here has shown to their sons and daughters.  YOU continue to follow a priceless vocation, one which God HIMSELF is partial to, as you introduce your own children to the face of God Himself.  Each in your own unique way . . .in the good times and bad, successes and mistakes. 

God made mothers and fathers because WE NEED BOTH, we need to SUPPORT BOTH, we need to PRAY FOR BOTH, so that girls become true ladies and boys become true men.  So that all our young people become saints.  In a world that says itís impossible, and too prone to fail, and too much work for what itís worth . . . I thank each of you for living the proof that shows authenticity, showing the world that itís totally possible, because Godís a member at your dinner table.  Itís guaranteed to be victorious, for your sights arenít looking at diplomas or pay grades, but at the cross and saints who surround that cross.  Itís guaranteed to be worth every effort along the way, because you carry a torch which shows the world that youíre part of an eternal family - - - for in your care, in your relentless love for each other, in the mysterious and wondrous support you have for your family members, you show forth to the world, the LIVING PRESENCE OF THE GOD WHO LOVES US, who has entered that world and SAVED IT, by means of a family.

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