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Lost in the Family

In the Gospel of Luke (2:41-52), after presenting themselves for the Feast of Passover, following tradition, Mary and Joseph found themselves traveling home in separate caravans, with each believing that the other was with the child Jesus. At some point, however, the reality that Jesus had not accompanied them on their journey home sank in.

With great anxiety, fear, and I am sure- tears, Mary and Joseph embarked upon an “adventure” of retracing their steps that would lead them back to Jerusalem. Upon arriving there, they would ultimately find the Divine Child in the temple. And to their amazement, Jesus looked nothing like a boy who had been lost. To the contrary, He appeared right at home.

In moving the story toward a conclusion, then, might we ask, “If Jesus was not lost, is there a possibility that somehow Mary and Joseph were lost? Is it plausible that in losing Him for a time, that Jesus was actually drawing each of them deeper into the mystery of their own salvation?” For when Mary and Joseph found Him, Jesus asks them two questions. “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.” (Luke 2:49-50)

Lost in the family. An interesting observation. In our day and age, we can find ourselves lost in many things: television, internet, Blackberries, iPhones, iPads, texting, and so on. In moderation, these things might be considered a “good” – a perk of the technological times in which we live. But when taken to the extreme, to the extent that we immerse ourselves in them, to the extent that we keep our heads down in worship of them- perhaps it is we that are truly lost.

In his encyclical, Familiaris Consortio, soon-to-be beatified Pope John Paul II notes that families experience

“Joys and sorrows, hopes and disappointments, birth and birthday celebrations, wedding anniversaries of the parents, departures, separations and homecomings, important and far-reaching decisions, the death of those that are near, etc.- all of these marking God’s loving intervention in the family’s history.”

Likewise, in pondering John Paul II’s writing, professor and theologian David Michael Thomas reflects that

“Yes, family spirituality is fully relational. The love of God is thoroughly mixed with love of neighbor into a rich spiritual stew. Family prayer is often said on the run. While all parents crave moments of silence, constant noise may often be the order of the day. Moments of interpersonal life often outnumber moments of solitude. And that’s all ‘Ok.’ Dads and moms are not monks and nuns. Their spiritual vitality percolates from what happens each day in the confusion of their home church. In this place, the Spirit of God stirs the air and sanctifies the spaces between family members.”

Lost in the family? Yes! May we lift our heads from the distractions of life and lose ourselves there. And may we see that it is in the family that we are embraced, nourished, accepted, and free to follow our dreams. It is in the family that we are called to place everything that we are and everything that we have been given- at the disposal of others. Most importantly, it is in the family where we believe that the prayers we pray will not only be heard by God, but that our prayers will truly change our families and the world in which we live.

As such, may we build upon the relationships in our lives that are solid and firm, while at the same time, mending those in need of attention. In doing so, may we pray that our families become more holy- in order that, family by family, we may begin transforming a world in great need of holiness.

To quote Pope John Paul II: “Families, become what you are!”

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