Amid astonishing revelations, all laden with theological significance, the prologue of the Gospel of John, states also something very remarkable but that might slip below our “spiritual radar:” And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
Literally it should be rendered by “and He pitched His tent among us.”
In the Old Testament, we see how God pitched His tent in the desert by the Israelites’ camp. The significance of this decision did not escape His chosen people and it should not escape us in the New Testament.
Today, our God wants to reassure us that His Word who became flesh, Jesus, pitches His tent wherever our family happens to live at any given time and due to any circumstances and any situations that befall us, such as work opportunities, untimely deaths, financial straits and even other more vexing surroundings.
In the middle of the night, suddenly, Joseph had to pick up their meager belongings and flee to Egypt. In that foreign land he had to settle temporarily and make a living as an expatriate. After the death of Herod, obediently, Joseph picked up their meager belongings and thought about settling where his roots were, near Bethlehem. However, obediently carrying out a precise divine command, he wound up settling in the obscure hamlet of Nazareth, in Galilee, among people of mixed ethnicities: Jews, pagans and Samaritans.
What is the message that we should gather from this divinely-led wanderings of the Holy Family?
There are several messages that serve as a frame for the place or places that we call home.
Our God is always picking up His tent and pitching it down to be the closest to our family even amid the discomfort of having to uproot, the unknowns of the wandering, the uncertainties of any new destination and the pains of adjusting to the new place we have to call home. The closeness of our God must include also the light that He sheds on our families in any existential decision we must make. It must include signs that help us in our decision-making process of matters of lesser importance, but vital nonetheless; and the ability to decipher subtle messages that only eyes purified by faith can interpret.
God’s closeness assures the resolve to resist the temptation to give up as the first inevitable difficulties arise and gives the spiritual stamina to live out our Christian faith as we soar above the doldrums of daily routine that could flatten everything. Today, we find out that our family is truly the most precious gift that the Lord gives to Christian parents and that, through His Church, He makes available all that it needs so that every member of it can wear, as a spiritual garment, the virtues listed by St. Paul. (Col 3:12-21)
Let me mention them again with the intention that we should memorize them as the components that make our home as close as possible to the holy Family of Nazareth.
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
I should single out the willingness to forgive, which must be constant and generously given because we are all flawed members of God’s universal Family; and we know from Christ’s teachings that unforgiveness is the only ugly reality that would keep us from the final reunion around the Table of our Heavenly Father. (cf. Matthew 18:35)
I must add the ability to recognize divine blessings of all sizes so that our gratitude may become like a second nature for us. That constant predisposition to thankfulness would, inevitably, lead us to gather in our church to do Eucharist, i.e. to give thanks to the Father in union with His Son and our Brother, Jesus Christ.
“… singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God”
In addition to what we should contribute to make our family as similar as possible to the Holy Family of Nazareth, Sirach (3:2-6, 12-14), indirectly, calls us to stand up for our type of family: the traditional family.
As the passage states, God sets the role of each one within a family unit. This is extremely important especially nowadays when political correctness and misguided inclusiveness put all kinds of “families” on equal footing…
I am not denying that two daddies or two mommies can love their children, but their family setting is not set by God. Something is out of order: A man, however well disposed he might be, cannot give the children what only a female mother can give; and a woman, however dedicated she might be, she cannot give the children what only a male father can give. A surrogate mother is forever out of the picture of the life of the child she was paid to conceive. “Designer children” conceived through IVF will be deprived of their right to their father who will never be in their lives.
This standing up for the family as God set it up from all eternity is a battle that we cannot afford to engage with less than with all our energies and dedication. We should not feel cowered by godless people who, by choice and in the name of progressiveness, have subverted God’s order and the fruitfulness of traditional family. We should not allow them to intimidate or embarrass us. We are fighting for the future as He has planned it for the good of humanity and for His honor and glory.
Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in His ways.