Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Family in Search for God


After an entire day’s journey on their return home from the pilgrimage to the temple, both Joseph and Mary realized that Jesus was not with them. And so they looked for him among their acquaintances and relatives and not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem. We might easily conclude that the search for Jesus took place simply because as parents, Mary and Joseph felt responsible for him. While this may be true, there is something here deeper into this search for a lost boy. Perhaps the key to this deeper meaning is found in the fact that after 3 days, they found him in the temple.

In the newly published 3rd volume of the book “Jesus of Nazareth”, Pope Benedict points out: “The 3 days may be explained in quite practical terms: Mary and Joseph spent 1 day travelling north, a further day was needed to retrace their steps, and on the 3rd day, they eventually find Jesus. But while the 3 days are thus a perfectly plausible chronological indication, one must nevertheless agree…(that) here (is) a silent reference to the 3 days between Cross and Resurrection. These are days spent suffering the absence of Jesus, days of darkness, whose heaviness can be sensed in his mother’s words: ‘Child, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously.’ (Lk 2:48)” (Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth: the Infancy Narratives, 123.) Mary and Joseph were not anxious simply because they lost a child. Their anxiety was on account of the fact that the disappearance of Jesus was the seeming absence of God (very similar to the sad experience of the disciples at the death of Jesus) They did not simply search for a child…they were looking for God. And true enough, they found him … where else but in the temple! Isn’t God supposed to be found in the temple?

This event speaks much to our families who are now living amidst a very secular setting. The signing of the RH Law should be the occasion for us to engage in some sort of examination of the state of Catholicity of our own families: Are our families still truly Catholic? Does the Lord still enjoy a central place in our family life? Does he still have a place in our families? The indifference with which many families met the signing of the RH law seems to indicate how secular our families have become. That our consciences are not at all bothered by the spread of the culture of death in our society and even in our families is a clear indication (and perhaps a danger sign) of how our families have imbibed a secular culture and have lost their Catholic identity. This is a clear warning sign that we are easing God out of our families. We are literally leading him out of the door. It is funny that we do not question the superstitions of feng sui experts but meet the teachings of Jesus with incredulity. It is disturbing that our hearts are no longer troubled nor anxious over the absence of God in our homes. Have we lost God? Are we looking for God?

It is time to retrace our steps to the Temple. It is time for our families to go back to Church and give time to God. It is time for us to search for him in prayer and in the study of our catechism. As Jesus reminded Mary and Joseph of the importance of being concerned with the “things of the Father”, so also he tells us to set our family standards higher: set your hearts on the things above where Christ is seated in the right hand of God.  Let us set our eyes on things sublime. We should be doing our Father’s business!

Jesus, I trust in you! O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

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