“Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. (Lk 2:48-50)
There are solid families, broken families, dysfunctional families, and caring families, and some families that have been over time all of the above. Yet, how many families do you know that are holy families. Rather, how many families do you know that make it their daily effort to be holy. In point of fact you may know some families right in this parish which pursue holiness; you may live in such a family. Further, you may be aware that a family is made holy in the same way a church is made holy: not by the imperfect people who fashion it, but by Jesus Christ who instills it.
Such is the story of the Holy Family of Nazareth. No doubt, Joseph was a holy and righteous man (Mt 1:19); no doubt, Mary was a holy and blessed virgin; but without Jesus Christ we would not have the Holy Family. It is the same with churches: without Jesus Christ we would have no “Holy (Apostolic) Church” as we declare in our Nicene Creed at Holy Mass (which by the way is made “holy” by the Eucharistic sacrifice of Jesus Christ).
Holiness does not always require complete understanding, as our quotation above from today’s Gospel reading indicates. What the Blessed Virgin Mary did not fully comprehend she would always contemplate in her heart (Lk 2:51) thus perfecting her holiness. We might call the Holy Family the Wondrous Family because as we see in our quotation from Sacred Scripture, even anxious and fearful moments conclude in wonderful revelations; for in the Finding of the Temple, that mysterious narrative about Jesus when he was only twelve years old, the world receives the first installment of the unveiling of the Holy Trinity as Jesus relates to his parents that God is Father and Son (with the disclosure of the Holy Spirit still to come)!
To celebrate this Sunday’s feast of The Holy Family we display on our bulletin cover a work by the Venetian master, Paulo Veronese, entitled Christ among the Doctors (1560). This painting is in panorama and so we are able to show you only a portion of it. Veronese places Jesus “on high” to show that He is the Word-descending to the earth . This is a classical High Renaissance work which depicts the Jewish temple court as a Greek “agora” with columns and colonnades (not seen here) – a place of assembly and debate. The figure of Jesus is seen pointing toward heaven with his right hand, while gesturing outward with his left, thus indicating His visitation from His Father. In the background we see Mary and Joseph inquiring about their missing son.
Veronese himself makes a clever artistic gesture by positioning Mary so as to point in the direction of her divine Son. It is as if we have fast forwarded from the Temple in Jerusalem to the wedding at Cana where she tells the wine servants, “listen to Him” (Jn 2:5). Even today she speaks this to us: to each and every one our parish families.
– Steve Guillotte, Director of Pastoral Services