Happy Feast Day to all of us, because we belong to a family, and also Happy Feast Day to all parishioners of Holy Family Parish! Today we celebrate the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, which is a model for all families, and also as a community of faithful here in our parish. Today, I would say, is a day all married couples should renew their wedding promises and give thanks for all the gifts God has granted you, and especially children. We all belong to a family, and therefore we should be thankful for that gift, although sometimes we take it for granted.
Today as we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family, the gospel passage gives us a glimpse of the family values and attitudes Christian parents and children should imitate, through the Holy Family of Nazareth. What we observe in today’s text is Joseph and Mary’s parental love, concern and care for their child, and the surprise of Jesus at their concern. Any of parents who have lost a child and have not found them will understand the inner trauma of Joseph and Mary when the young Jesus was lost. They searched for him with great distress and mental agony, because they thought they had failed in the responsibility and duty entrusted to them by God to care for their child. In other words, they were troubled not only because they were afraid that they lost him, but also because of the thought they did not take care of him. Sometimes, parents might ‘lose’ their children in a literal sense; as through drugs or criminal activities. Or, in a symbolic sense, as when parents observe their children losing character or moral/spiritual values.
Today’s gospel-message motivates parents to go on searching for their lost children until they are found. They are to imitate the intensity of love and anxiety with which Joseph and Mary went in search of their lost child, hoping to find their child even against all odds. The finding of Jesus in the temple after an anxious search is an example of hope for Christian parents for finding their lost children, and not losing them forever. If they do not find them, they are not to despair; instead, surrender their hopeless situation to God in faith and offer the ‘lost child’ into His hands.
I would like to quote Pope Francis in his address to the family: “There is no perfect family. We do not have perfect parents, we are not perfect, we do not marry a perfect person nor have perfect children. We have complaints about each other. We have deceived each other. Therefore, there is no healthy marriage and healthy family without the exercise of forgiveness. Forgiveness is vital to our emotional health and spiritual survival. Without forgiveness the family becomes a theater of conflict and a bastion of grievances. Without forgiveness the family gets sick. Forgiveness sterilizes the soul, cleansing the mind and freeing the heart. He who doesn’t forgive has no peace of mind or communion with God. Pain is a poison that intoxicates and kills. To keep a wound in one’s heart is a self-devouring gesture. It is autophagy. He or she, who doesn’t forgive, becomes physically, emotionally and spiritually ill. That’s why the family must be a place of life and not of death; territory of healing, not disease; stage of forgiveness and no guilt. Forgiveness brings joy where there was sorrow; and healing, where the disease has caused pain.”