Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle C

Feast of the Holy Family

 Luke 2 41-52

“they did not understand…”

Here is a very human story of everyday family life yet, at the same time, a story deep in significance. A young adolescent is lost, his parent’s search frantically for him for three whole days. When they do find him and ask in a mixture of fear, relief, joy, anger, and frustration: “Why have you done this to us?” they are met with a seemingly off-hand reply that most likely shocked them: “Why were you looking for me?” But then his second question must surely have puzzled them: “Did you not know that I must be busy with my Father’s affairs?”

No, they did not know; they were still learning; as Luke tells us, “they did not understand”. The person and mission of Jesus were a mystery, even for them. Even for Mary and Joseph, faith and understanding had to grow, a growth which took place amidst perplexity and worry as well as wonder and joy. Even for them things only gradually became clearer. Mary “stored up all these things in her heart”. She kept in her heart all that her son Jesus said and all that he did, thus coming to an ever-deeper understanding of his person. Her prayerful pondering allowed her to probe the significance of Jesus’ life and mission. Not even her special closeness to Jesus exempted her from the, at times, painful process which leads to understanding God’s plans.

Even Jesus himself “increased in wisdom, in stature, and in favour with God and man”. His own growth was not only physical but also spiritual. Jesus was not born with all the wisdom he would need to undertake his adult ministry. He grew in wisdom over the years, learning how to become ready to undertake the role that God had planned for him. Like Jesus himself, Mary and Joseph also had to grow in understanding and wisdom. And of course, so do we; we do not come to terms with everything all at once. Our spiritual life is a journey with its own individual struggles and challenges, as we each strive to follow Christ and seek to live in the ways he has called us to live.