The Sunday between Christmas and New Year's Day (if there is one) is "Holy Family Sunday" in my religious tradition. Every third year, the Gospel reading retells the story of the almost-teenaged Jesus being "lost" for a weekend.
I just love that story.
One might think his parents would have been just a tad, I don't know, *overprotective* of this child, what with angels and shepherds and Magi and astral phenomena and that sort of thing. At least, *I* could imagine myself reacting that way to those happenings.
And yet his parents lose him. For a whole day, they figure he's off with relatives, probably doing normal almost-teenaged-boy things. (Is there such a category, though?)
Once they discover they can't find him, they race back to Jerusalem and hunt for him. For a couple of days. To no avail.
Finally, "on the third day," they show up at 'church' -- well, their equivalent of it, anyway. They *finally* go to the Temple, I would suppose, to pray.
It's taken them three days to get to church, in a crisis. Of course, as the story goes, that's where he's been all along.
And then his mother blames *him* ("Why have YOU done THIS to US???" Can't you just see her wagging her finger at him?) -- as if the parents had nothing at all to do with the potentially dire, and even perhaps, life-threatening situation.
Perhaps because of the frontal attack, or perhaps because he was a normal almost-teenaged boy (is there such a creature?), Jesus responds in a typically teenaged, bratty way (I figure it was the Ancient Near East equivalent of, "Chill, Dudes! What's the problem?").
That's the Holy Family. A pretty goofy family, if you ask me.
Goofiness is no bar against holiness. Hooray!
This is really good news for anyone whose own family might be characterized in the slightest as being a bit "off," shall we say.
This year I was especially delighted to realize that it had taken Mary and Joseph three whole days to get to the place of prayer while they were in the midst of their upset and anxiety.
When all else fails, follow directions, eh?
It's nice to know we're all cut from the same cloth!
Christmas blessings and peace to one and all,
Fr. Tim, SJ