Holy Family Values

Luke 2:41-52
First Sunday after Christmas
Feast of the Holy Family

I once lost my younger son in a department store.

He was a toddler, chubby and unwieldy on his feet but, man, did he disappear in a flash. For the two or three minutes it took to find him (an eternity in such situations), my heart was in my throat. The dread was as unbearable as the relief was palpable when I finally found his impish, grinning self.

This weekend offers something of a holiday smorgasbord liturgically: the First Sunday after Christmas, the Feast of St. John the Evangelist, the Commemoration of St. Stephen, and the Feast of the Holy Family. There is a wide array of readings and alternate readings, too.

For churches using the text from St. Luke’s gospel, we’ll hear that the infant Jesus is now twelve years old and has gone missing in Jerusalem. Despite the decorous prose (“your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety”), we can imagine the unbearable dread and palpable relief when, after three days (not three minutes), his parents find him safe and sound.  Read more

Holy Families?

I Samuel 2:18-20, 26
Col 3:12-17 OR Col 3:12-21
Luke 2:41-52

I have been claimed both as a member of an unhappy family and of a happy family. The unhappy one I was born into and the happy one I was adopted into through marriage. I am speaking of natural families here. As my family of origin was stricken by a failed marriage, I have a hard time believing that the distinction between happy and unhappy families is not a deep and important one.

Perhaps Tolstoy meant to respect this important distinction when he wrote that “Happy families are alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” At the same time, I have often wondered how as a Christian the claiming of me by my family of origin and that of my family of adoption might be equally important in teaching me what it means to be a member of God’s family in the body of Christ. Read more