It has been eleven months since my father died and only now have we been able to look at some of the family pictures. As we looked at those pictures, I could now see why folks have said, “Oh you are just like your father.” The pictures also brought to bear the memories I have valued from my childhood: happy memories of an extended family, rootedness in home, the importance of tradition.
Our feast today, the feast of the Holy Family, remind us that being a “holy” family isn’t a matter of being obsessively religious and pietistic. It is a matter of valuing the memories, families and traditions that make us who we are.
We belong to a larger family, for we are “the children of God”. This larger family is not abstract but very concrete: being members of God’s holy family is expressed in our nuclear family, where we build our identity from traditions of goodness and values we pass on from generation to generation.
Mary and Joseph were not free from family struggles, after all, they lost Jesus on a trip! And when they found him, they had to struggle to understand who he was and who he was meant to be. In doing so, they were able to help Jesus grow in wisdom, age and grace.
We gather round the word in our Father’s house to refresh our memories of Jesus’ behavior that speak to our experience and challenge us to growth in goodness and Gospel values.
Like Mary and Joseph in this Gospel story, we often do not understand events as they are unfolding. We must ponder their meaning as we continue on with the ordinary affairs of daily life. In this way making memory becomes a means of grace.