Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Holy Family: Holy… and Fully Human

“Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” - Lk. 2:48

Sometimes the word “holy” makes me a little uncomfortable. For whatever reason, my brain often brings me to a place where I think the word means “pious” or “doing what is right.” When I think of a “holy person,” images of hands folded properly in prayer float through my mind. Holy often seems to be something pure, pristine or relegated to the divine.

But “holy” is beginning to mean something totally different to me now. If the divine has become human, that means our humanity has become divinized. That would then mean that to be holy is to be fully human.

I get such a kick out of today’s gospel. It is easy to see that the writer has tried to sugar-coat the story with language that glosses over the mess of the situation. Good try Luke. But my prayer with this gospel keeps bringing me to a place of raw humanity, of raw family drama. Jesus really ticked off his parents. Really ticked them off.

It is impossible to relate to an image of the Holy Family as perfect. Sure, there were two members of that family whom we describe as “without sin,” but let us not forget that there is a difference between making a mistake and committing a sin. Jesus and Mary (and Joseph, of course) made mistakes in life. I will say it again: they made mistakes. And the drama of today’s gospel makes this very clear: someone messed up. The Holy Family was not perfect.

Let’s pray with that today. Maybe we can use our imagination in our prayer to enter into the family drama of the Holy Family. What would the full conversation be like when Mary and Joseph found Jesus? Enter into the pain and worry of Mary and Joseph. Enter into the pre-teen rebellion of Jesus. It is in those moments where we come to see how much more meaningful it is to have a God who has entered into our mess. Especially into our family mess. Let us all search for Jesus who might be hiding in our families today.

Tony Cortese

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