In the Gospel of Luke (2:41-52), after traveling to Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover, Mary and Joseph began their journey home believing that the child Jesus had accompanied them. At some point, however, the reality that Jesus had not accompanied them sank in.
With great anxiety and fear, Mary and Joseph proceeded to embark upon an “adventure” of retracing their steps that would lead them back to Jerusalem. Upon arriving there, they eventually located the Divine Child in the temple. To their amazement, Jesus looked nothing like a boy who was lost. To the contrary, He appeared right at home.
A question: If Jesus was not lost, is it possible that Mary and Joseph were? 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 asked them two questions (Luke 2:49): First, “Why were you looking for me?” And second, “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But, as Luke’s Gospel (2:50) notes, “they did not understand what He said to them.” Perhaps they were lost in the family; a rather interesting observation, don’t you think?
In our day and age, we can find ourselves lost in many things: television, internet, iPhones, texting, and so on. In moderation, these things might be considered a perk of the technological times in which we live. However, our nonstop immersion in them might also render us lost regarding the things of life that truly matter.
In his encyclical, Familiaris Consortio, St. 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.”
In pondering John Paul II’s writing, professor and theologian David Michael Thomas reflects that “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. May we see that it is in the family that we are embraced, nourished, accepted, and free to follow our dreams. For 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. Still yet, 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.
To quote Saint Pope John Paul II: “Families, become what you are!”