Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. In our first reading we hear about Samuel. Hannah saw him as a gift from God, a sign of God’s favor to her. It is not surprising then that she dedicated him to the Lord. In due time Samuel made his own that dedication, and went on to play a major role in the history of Israel.
Every child is a gift from God. All parents have hopes and dreams for their children but parents cannot determine the future for their children. Children have to find their own way and, in reality, God may have others plans for them that conflict with those of their parents.
The Gospel account for today’s feast tells the story of how the 12-year-old Jesus got lost in Jerusalem. It shows that misunderstandings can occur even in the best of families. We are in the habit of saying that Jesus got lost in the Temple. But Jesus did not get lost there, rather, he was at home there. It was in the Temple that he began to find himself, and to discover his true identity. Jesus was not only the son of Mary, but the Son of God.
Many lost, lonely, homeless souls have come to the house of God, or have wandered into it almost by accident, and felt at home there, and found peace there, and found themselves there. In the House of God we discover who we are. Whatever the world may think of us, in God’s house we know we are God’s beloved sons and daughters.
Like Jesus, we too have a double identity. We are not just children of our parents but also children of God. St. John makes this very clear in the second reading today. We belong to God’s family.
It was God who first loved us. There is nothing that we have to do to earn God’s love. The very fact that we exist is a sign of God’s love. Children respond to the love of their parents by obeying them. We respond to God’s love for us by obeying and living the Commandments.
In the incident of losing and finding of Jesus in the Temple, we see the love Mary and Joseph had for him. Afterwards Jesus went down to Nazareth with them and obeyed them.
Home is a place where we are accepted as we are, with our strengths and our weaknesses. This kind of acceptance enables us to grow as human beings and children of God.
– Fr. Dennis, December 30, 2018