What if things aren’t
And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom; and when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, but supposing him to be in the company they went a day’s journey, and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintances; and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking him.
Today our Holy Church celebrates another of its unique Solemnities – that of the Christian Family. Many pastors will speak today about the unique and beautiful ideal that is the Christian family. This is certainly the model we should be pursuing. We have the example of the Holy Family as our model – Joseph, Mary, and Jesus.
In the gospels we read of all the wonderful things that emerge from the blessings of family. Mary came to the assistance of her kinswoman Elizabeth when she was expecting. Joseph protected his family when Herod sent his army to kill them. John proclaimed the coming of His cousin, Jesus. This is certainly the kind of mutual support and overall family goodness we strive for, we hope to find in our lives. But what happens when things go wrong, when our lives don’t exactly match up to the ideal?
The Holy Family faced one of those moments. Jesus went missing. Things weren’t going according to plan. He couldn’t be found. He wasn’t with family and friends. Some Biblical scholars and historians estimate the festival crowds in Jerusalem at about 3 million people. A boy of twelve was somewhere among 3 million people… Scary stuff.
Our lives are filled with scary stuff. When those moments come – abuse, divorce, addiction, poverty, homelessness, infertility, infidelity, and so many other struggles – and we think about the Christian family – we feel that God must have turned His back on us. We are abandoned and alone. We can’t possibly live up to the ideal.
God didn’t abandon Mary and Joseph in their moment of fear. He didn’t abandon His Son in the midst of 3 million people. God has not and will not abandon us. Remember, we are worth so much that He offered up His Son’s life for us. When problems center down on us we have one stronghold we can rely on. It is one stronghold with two aspects. The first aspect is that the Father has adopted us all. We are brothers and sisters to Jesus. We have the Holy Spirit with us to strengthen and uphold us – God who gives us life and complete love. The other aspect of our Father’s provision is the Holy Church and each local parish. This is the Body of Christ in all its reality – brokenness striving to heavenly glory. Mutual love and support so that we may assist each other as one family when things aren’t great.